Last Minute Application Tips!

         Grades and test scores are important in the admission process; there is no doubt about that. However, while we are looking for students who have challenged themselves academically and who have performed well in school, we rely on the qualitative factors of the application  to arrive at a decision. At this point in the process, high school seniors should focus their attention on the presentation components of the application: the essay, short answers, extracurricular activities, and the letter of recommendation.

The Essay

The essay is a student’s opportunity to tell us who they are, not only as a person but also as a student. The most successful essays are the most authentic essays. We are truly trying to get to know who our applicants are. The best advice I can give to students is to “be yourself”.

Short Answers

They are called short answers, buuuut they shouldn’t be too short of an answer. The short answers are taken very seriously in our review process. They give us valuable insight in to a student’s academic interest as well as their commitments outside of the classroom.

Extracurricular Activities

We are looking for students who are going to be active members of the USC community. I always recommend that students list any commitments they have outside of the classroom. This includes traditional clubs, sports, volunteer organizations, work experience etc. But it also includes, non-traditional activities such as taking care of siblings or other family members, productive hobbies like photography, marathon training or climbing Everest.

Letter of Recommendation

Students often feel like they do not have control over their letter of recommendations; yet, students do have control over whom they approach to write a letter of recommendation on their behalf. We require that at least one recommendation come from someone who can comment on the student’s academic character and potential (i.e. counselor or teacher).

28 thoughts on “Last Minute Application Tips!”

  1. I can I mail in my letters of recommendation or is it to late. Do i have to ask my teachers to do send it through email?

    1. Letters of recommendation can be mailed directly to USC at the following address:
      USC Office of Admission
      University Park Campus
      Los Angeles, CA

    1. When we assess grade point average, we take rigorous courses such as AP or IB classes into consideration. Since there is no minimum requirement in terms of a GPA, we look at an applicant’s overall academic preparation and how a student has taken advantage of challenging courses to guide our review.

  2. I want to transfer to USC from a CCC. After I submit the application by February 1st, do I need to to submit all of my transcripts by that time also?

    1. Transfer applicants should submit their official high school transcript and all college transcripts as close to the February 1 application deadline as possible. Applications without high school and college transcripts are considered incomplete. We will not read applications until they are complete.

  3. If I am interested in minoring in dance can I send in a DVD of a dance solo along with ballet/ modern technique? Or is admission to USC the only factor.Is it a program where if admitted to USC I just sighn up.

    1. We do not encourage the submission of supplemental materials outside of those required by specific academic departments. The minor in dance is open to all undergraduates at USC.

    1. There are some differences in the application for transfer applicants. For example, a letter of recommendation is not required for most transfer applicants. We will review transfer applicants’ short answer responses, essays, and activity summary in much the same way that we review those responses for first-year applicants. Check out our blog post from last year for more information: “Quick Tip for Transfer Applicants”

      1. I am planning to transfer to USC this fall. Would be ok if one of my teacher send a recommendation letter even if it is not recommended?

        Thanks! 🙂

    1. No, there is no difference in terms of your chance of being admitted if you submit your application earlier than the deadlines. We do not have rolling admission, thus all first-year applicants will receive their admission decision by April 1 if they applied by the December 1 or January 10 deadlines.

  4. I made a mistake in the “short answers” part when I applied USC at “Common Application”, and submitted it, can I make changes to a submitted application in the USC addmission office? Thanks.

  5. Does the essay have to be non-fiction? I am thinking about writing a fictional story to show my creativity because that may help me stand out more. Does USC admissions appreciate dry humor? thanks.

    1. The Common Application provides guidelines for the essay. You can view the guidelines for this past year’s essay on the Common Application website to get an idea of the types of prompts that are provided. The essay helps us get to know you better as a student and a person beyond your coursework, grades, test scores, and other parts of the application. How you approach the essay and what topic you choose is up to you.

  6. I am an undocumented student and want to transfer to USC. Is there any changes in the application process tailored specifically to students like me? Also, is it required to complete most of the major courses for my major before transferring?

    1. There are not specific differences in the application process for undocumented students. Transfer applicants do not need to complete most of their major-related courses before transferring. Even so, we do have some specific requirements and recommendations for transfer students in terms of courses to be completed before transferring. Our website and Transferring to USC brochure provide detailed information about the transfer process at USC.

  7. I registered for the optional USC admission interview and I’m scheduled to have mine pretty soon. Does this automatically give me a better chance of getting into the school? Also on common app short questions that asks things such as: favorite snack? Should we answer with just our answer or is it okay to explain a bit because there is a line provided and there were never any given instructions to how much the student could write? Thank you.

    1. Hi Precious, On the Quick Takes (questions like your favorite snack,) one word answers are fine…no need to elaborate. With regards to interviews…I recommend reading this blog…it will answer your question about interviews.

  8. I have been told by my professor that he made a severe.mjstake while giving remarks in the LOR application process and submitted the application and he wants to correct it as it might greatly affect my application, is there any thing we can reset the application or correct it after it has already been submitted?

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