USC Conference 2016

Since I visited the UC Conference this week, it was only fitting that I head over to Trojan land and visit the USC Conference as well…to make it fair. I love this conference. It’s a wonderful way for me to connect with admissions, hear updates and see the campus transformation throughout the years. A building that was once under construction, now fully done, a program that was brand new, now in its consecutive year. This is why college is exciting. It’s always growing and expanding learning opportunities in so many ways. Take a look at a summary of the information I gathered today. Whether you are a Senior applying, a Junior more actively looking at colleges, or a younger student learning college tidbits, it’s all informative!

New (or fairly new) buildings/programs to campus

• USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance is now it’s own school with a state-of-the-art newly completed building filled with studio spaces and so much more. (Did you know 1 in 5 USC students major in visual and/or performing arts?!)

• USC Village – Project to be completed with the Fall of 2017 entering Freshman. A HUGE space for student housing, to also include a Trader Joe’s, Grocery store, and an expanded Honors College. The university not only invested in its student living/learning community but also helped to build a new Fire Station and housing for the local community.

• Light rail now runs all the way to Santa Monica. Student access to a wider range of Los Angeles.

Admission Updates
Changes on Supplemental Essay (first prompt is changed)…choose one of the following to answer:

1. USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view.

2. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.

3. What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

Can no longer put undeclared as first choice on application (DON’T PANIC!)

• Paraphrased directly from the Dean of Admission: Not looking for a specific answer, there are no traps. Want to offer an opportunity for students to showcase interests and choose a major they have some interest in.

• Students can still put undeclared as their second choice and still be admitted undecided.

• Admissions would like students to pick a major as a reference. It’s OKAY if you think you might be interested in something different and change later.

• Admissions found students who declared at least SOME interest they overall had a better experience

Quick Facts

• Last year less than 7% of students were undecided

• 56% who start as freshman change major at least once

• 25% of students end up changing their school

• There is NO strategy. If you want engineering apply engineering don’t try to be tricky

• USC will always consider student fit first

Fall 2016 admission statistics

• Received over 54,000 applications and experienced an increase in applications overall

• 16.6% admit rate. Most selective in history

• (most recent data as of 8/22/16) Fall admits

• 54,000 applicants, ability to admit about 9,000

• 3.76 – 4.0 average GPA of admitted students

• 650-750 SAT Critical Reading (middle 50%)

• 680-780 SAT Math (middle 50%)

• 31-34 ACT Composite (middle 50%)

Out of 54,000 applicants, about 40,000 of the students who apply CAN do the work and have the ability to get in…what does this mean? This is where the holistic application process comes into play

They have turned down students who have never received a B or earned a perfect score, you have a story to tell that’s bigger than your grades, and USC wants this to be a good fit!

Things to consider and to know

October 30, 2016 Open House for families – Great day to go explore!

• USC reads everything (every piece of your application) and takes a look at the applicant pool as a group.
What is the group of students who will thrive and be the most interesting for their faculty to teach?

• Apply through Common Application

December 1, 2016 is priority scholarship deadline (and for majors with auditions/portfolios)

• No early action/decision deadline, Regular Decision January 15, 2016

• National Merit Finalist students who indicate USC as first choice may qualify for 50% off tuition rate

• 10% increase in engineering applications = more competitive

• No waitlist option (may offer students for Spring 2018 admission)

Essays specific towards your major
• When you apply on the Common Application and indicate your major a supplemental essay will change to reflect what you have chosen.

If you missed the chance to sign up for an optional interview: IT’S OKAY
• USC realizes they can’t interview everyone, most of the time the interview tells an admission officer something they can already clearly see on the application.

Lastly, words from admissions:

Grow, live your life and be intentional about your decisions. Present that in your application. Think of your self, assess your values, potential, successes and failures and tell us something that feels real and authentic.

Not about a trophy, we want it to be a good match.

Don’t game the process, it lessens the strength of your application. Be intentional.

Remember, if you love USC, think of why? Environment, programs, clubs, etc. This can help you pick other colleges to apply to with the same characteristics. Dig deeper!

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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