USC’s Hashtag Question

Two things:

Dear USC,

Can you please explain how exactly this question helps you evaluate a student’s candidacy for your school? We understand wanting to be relevant and hip(!). But we really think this does neither. Hashtags aren’t a new thing.

In 2013, Tufts asked applicants what #yolo means to them. The hashtag question is kind of like that, but worse. It’s very 2011.

We’re writing to you because we’re frustrated. We’ve spent countless hours thinking about this question, answering emails about this question, and quelling the fears of students trying to come up with a witty, effective, and thought-provoking answer. Even the best answers to this question still aren’t that good. If you want to be “hip,” you’re better off asking kids what they captioned their latest Instagram post or about their favorite Snapchat filter. And that would be so weird.

As far as we can tell, this question tells you absolutely nothing about the student being evaluated. We’ve had numerous kids email us about this question. Today. This the the question we get the most emails about. For the most part, they say that they have never once thought about something like this and are just plain confused, for good reason. If you’re reading this, please email us and let us know what you’re looking for. We’d all love to know.


Dear students,

Don’t spend too much time on this question. And please don’t email us about it. There’s no way that this question is make or break for your application. Brainstorm for a bit, give it your best shot (we suggest going with something funny), then focus on the rest of the supplement. But please don’t email us about this question.

Contact us here if you’re looking for help with your supplements.