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How to Respond to 2023/2024 University of San Diego Supplemental Essay Prompts

The University of San Diego is a private, Roman-Catholic university located in beautiful San Diego, California. Through the USD supplemental essay, students have a chance to show the admissions professionals who they are as a person. Let’s dive into what the USD supplemental essays are all about!

Mandatory USD first-year supplemental essay

“The University of San Diego offers diverse educational opportunities grounded in the liberal arts and sciences. First-year students are immersed in one of our five Learning Communities (LC), with the themes reflecting the vitality of the liberal arts tradition: Advocate, Collaborate, Cultivate, Illuminate and Innovate. Select one of these five themes and describe how it resonates with you and why.” 

All first-year applicants are required to write this essay prompt. It gives the reader an opportunity to see what kind of student you are and who you are as a person. This prompt can be easily answered in about 200 words, but the maximum length it can be is 350 words. 

This is a personal opinion essay, but a good one to show the admissions professionals at San Diego what kind of person you are. Are you an advocate, and if so, why? How is collaboration important to you in your college career? Think about things like this while you are looking at each of these five themes. 

Questions to consider:

  • How have you used one of these themes in your life to shape who you are?
  • Are any of these themes values that your current school community holds?
  • How will you incorporate these themes into your education at San Diego?

Also see: 10 tips for successful college applications

Mandatory USD supplemental essay for transfer students

“How will USD help enhance your educational and professional goals beyond what your current institution offers?”

If you are choosing to transfer, it is likely that you already know the answer to this question. Think about the reason that you are deciding to leave your previous institution, and without putting that school down, talk about the things that you are looking forward to that San Diego offers. Beyond that, what are you hoping to do after you graduate college that San Diego can help you with? Whatever your future goal is, think about the alumni network, classes, and professors that USD can offer you as an undergraduate and incorporate them into your response here. 

Questions to consider:

  • What are your educational and professional goals?
  • What does USD have that your previous institution did not?
  • Why is USD the ideal school for you?

Also see: How to write a transfer essay

First year and transfer student optional prompts

First year students are also required to choose one of the three prompts below to write along with their mandatory essay. Each of these prompts can also be written in 350 words, and giving students the opportunity to choose which prompt they would like to write shows that USD wants to get to know you!

Prompt #1

“What contribution have you made to your current school and/or local community that best exemplifies your awareness of and commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable community? Here at USD, we believe that our campus community and the communities we engage with are integral parts of who we are as a university. Our newly launched Horizon Project is a call to action, ensuring that we are dedicating the time, energy and resources necessary to build an ever more diverse and inclusive campus community. We value the fact that our students come from all walks of life, have experienced different realities and bring with them an array of unique perspectives, including some that have often been underrepresented and underserved by higher education.”

This prompt offers a great opportunity to talk about the times where you have served your community through community service. If you do not have any community service experience to talk about, that is completely fine. You can think about clubs and organizations that you were in while in high school, and how they affected the individuals in the organization and your school community. Read about the Horizon Project and how you can get involved. If you have any experience working on a team to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within your community, school, or organization, this is a great opportunity to touch on this.

Questions to consider:

  • What community service opportunities did you participate in while in high school?
  • What steps did you take to make the organization you were a part of more diverse? 
  • Have you worked on a diversity project or on a diversity team in an organization?

Prompt #2

“Use this space to write about one of the challenges facing humanity today. Why does it matter to you? What experiences or insights have you had that speak to the urgency of this issue. As a proud Changemaker Campus, as designated by Ashoka U, the USD experience emphasizes changemaking through social justice efforts, civic engagement, social innovation, creativity and a global perspective.”

This is a very deep question that will take some time to answer fully. As you can imagine, there are so many different topics that you could choose to write about here. The best thing that you can do here is free write about something that you are passionate about or something that you want to change in the world.  After you are done with that, go back and edit your work into more cohesive thoughts. Be sure to link back to the Changemaker website to show that you did your research! 

Questions to consider:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What experiences have you had that made you passionate about this topic?
  • What do you feel are the world’s most pressing issues–what needs to change?

Prompt #3

“Share some of your ideas about the role of faith or spirituality in your life or the life of someone you know. As a contemporary Catholic university, we welcome and celebrate students from every background and faith tradition, including those who do not identify with a faith tradition. We devote great time and energy to ensuring all students feel connected to the vibrant USD community, including opportunities to grow in their relationship with God while considering who they are, what they believe and who they are called to become.”

Since the University of San Diego is a Catholic university, faith is something that is very important to them. Remember, this is an optional prompt, so you do not necessarily need to write this essay. But, if you are a spiritual person and this is something you are passionate about, this essay can tell a lot about the kind of person you– especially if you choose to write about your admiration for someone else’s faith. This shows that you are observant and that you have respect for other people, two things that many colleges look for in a student. 

Questions to consider:

  • Who in your life has influenced your faith?
  • Regardless of what religion they practice, who in your life has a faith that you admire?
  • How has your faith influenced your education?

Final thoughts for students

There are a nice variety of essays to choose from for your USD supplemental essay. Each of these are pretty straightforward essay options, but just make sure that you are focusing on what makes San Diego the best place for you, and why you would make a great addition to their community. Overall, if you are open and honest in each of your responses, they will love you!

Also see: What is the difference between a college and university?

Additional resources

Once you’ve finished your USD supplemental essays, give yourself a pat on the back! You’re one step closer to finishing your college admissions. But once you’re ready to get back into the process, remember we are here to help every step of the way. With guides on when to apply to college, how many schools to apply to, and how to choose a safety school, we can help you with all your decision-making.

We can also help you decipher your financial aid award letter, write a financial aid appeal, and choose your college. Good luck, and remember, apply to all the scholarships you are eligible for! 

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