“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”


As I reflect on my work as the dean of admission at a highly selective university, Dickens’ words frequently come to mind. The dual emotions of of joy and disappointment aren’t experienced only by our applicants, but by admission officers as well – more on that in bit.

We have completed our review of USC’s record-breaking 2018-19 first-year applicant pool. As I write this, our team is sorting decisions for mailing. Later today, tens of thousands of items will be loaded onto trucks to begin their journeys to every corner of the world.

We read the first of 64,256 applications for USC’s class of 2022 on October 18, 2017; 154 days later we reached our last decision. Across all those weeks of reading, we came to know our applicants very well. We shared in their triumphs and challenges; we learned about their motivations and dreams; we marveled at their academic pursuits and extracurricular accomplishments; but most of all, we tried to imagine how they’d fit at USC.

I am so incredibly excited for the students who have been admitted to USC. This is a very special place—a distinctive intellectual community that promises to offer you opportunities to be challenged, to excel, and to be transformed.

But most of the readers of this post won’t be celebrating the news they’re about to receive from USC. While I am quite pleased with our admitted class, I sincerely feel for those students we had to let go. None of us on the admission committee takes joy or pride in turning away students. Selecting a class is as much art as it is science and with such an enormous applicant pool and so few spaces, we were forced to make many tough decisions. I hope that denied students don’t interpret the committee’s decision as a negative commentary on their character, potential or intelligence, but rather as the result of an extremely competitive process that is defined largely by an incredible scarcity of admission spots and truly worldwide competition.


A few numbers about this fall’s admitted class of first-year students:

  • More than 64,000 first-year applicants
  • 13% admission rate; 8,258 students admitted
  • Nearly 3,300 different high schools represented, from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Marianas, Guam and 87 other countries
  • 39% from California
  • Outside California, the most represented U.S. States are Texas, New York, Illinois, Washington and Florida
  • 16% are international students. The most represented countries are China, India, South Korea, Canada and Brazil
  • 1-in-7 will be the first in their family to attend college
  • 69% are African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander or of multiple ethnicities
  • The average un-weighted GPA, on a 4-point scale, is 3.86.
  • 34% of admits have perfect un-weighted GPAs of 4.0; another 10% earned only one B in high school.
  • The middle-50% ACT range is 31-35; the middle-50% SAT range is 1410-1530
  • 85% had standardized test scores in the 95th percentile or higher. Nearly 5,000 (60%) had standardized test scores in the 99th


Why don’t we just notify students online?

We are often asked why we send admission decisions through postal mail. The answer’s simple: we believe that you should receive this personal news at home, have a chance to experience it with your family, and have the space to decide who else knows the outcome. Whether it’s positive or negative, we would much rather you receive our decision by reading our letter rather than just find out “yes” or “no” on your phone, in between classes at school.

We also understand that waiting is really difficult and not all postal mail arrives in a timely fashion. Because of this, we will post an electronic version of your decision letter online, via our applicant portal, https://you.usc.edu. Your online letter will be made available Sunday morning, March 25th.


So what’s next?

If you are admitted and have applied for need-based financial aid, you’ll be hearing about that very soon. We are committed to getting this information to you quickly, since fewer than six weeks remain until you must commit to enroll.

During the month of April, we will be hosting 48(!) events for admitted students, both on- and off-campus. Check your admission packet or our website for further details – we can’t wait to meet you and your parents! And, if you haven’t visited campus yet, now’s the time to do so.

Nearly three decades have passed since I first helped recruit a class of entering USC students. A lot has changed here since then, but something has remained constant: the deep pride and satisfaction that our students, faculty, staff and alumni experience as being members of the Trojan Family.

Thanks for taking this journey with us. Best wishes to you and fight on!

Timothy Brunold
Dean of Admission

35 thoughts on ““It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…””

    1. Dear Usc,

      You are my dream school.

      Tomorrow. I will go to mail box. And open my …

      Thank u very much!

      Claire Bai from Houston tx

  1. Mr. Brunold,

    Thank you for the fantastic job the admissions office do year round to assist and identify our future Trojans. Good luck to all the applicants for the 2022 class.

    1. Hi Jenny, We don’t know exactly when international students will receive their mail. It all depends on the mail itself.

  2. Thank you for this message!!! As a parent of a child that is anxiously awaiting to become a Trojan, I needed some words to calm the nerves and keep the faith. Anxiously waiting for Great News!!! Thank you USC and thank you admission counselors for all your hard work!

    1. Hi Abe, Transfer students will hear from us by June 1st with either a decision or request for spring grades.

  3. Thank you Dean for your kind words. The feeling we got reading this blog is exemplary of the welcoming feeling our daughter felt during our many visits to your campus. She applied to Film School. A couple of her friends have already gotten their “box” today. We received nothing; not an admission nor a rejection. We live literally 8 miles away. We just don’t understand why. Is the SCA notification different than general admission? We would truly appreciate a quick response. We’re losing our minds over here! Lol. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.

  4. From the Northern Marianas here!

    I’ve never felt so nervous in my life. USC is my dream school.

    Wishing everyone a good luck, and Fight On!!!

  5. Dear Dean and admissions committee,

    This post has given me hope in my decision for tomorrow.
    I am excited more than nervous, and am truly wishing for the best.

    Thank you for your time in reviewing our many applications and I hope to be able to join my dream school in the fall next year, as a Trojan.

    Anne-Sophie Andreoli

  6. Good luck to everyone! Although these statistics are more than intimidating, keep hope!

    For those (and me) who may not be accepted: just remember there are many paths for us out there. If USC is truly your dream school, as it is mine, then keep striving for it.

    Crossing my fingers for the portal opening!

    1. Hi Mona, The decisions were mailed last Thursday. We don’t know exactly when they will arrive around the world. Decisions are also currently on student’s USC portals.

  7. Thank you so much for this post! I have just been accepted to USC and am in awe of the diversity in both backgrounds and ideas wbich have shaped the incoming student body to be what it is, and I know that each student is anxiously awaiting this decision. I am so grateful for the unique opportunities available at USC and will hopefully be attending this fall!

  8. Really hope that when I open my portal tomorrow there will be options for dorms and “accepting admissions” button. Best of luck to all!

  9. Dear Dean and admissions committee,

    When will the decision be released for the Lovine and Young Academy?

    I’m anxiously waiting!!

    Dikshita Khullar

  10. The fact of the matter is that pretty much all of those rejected by USC will get that news alone on the middle of the night while the rest of their family is asleep and are not there to support them. Please reconsider the 12 midnight PST release. You say you want students to have their family with them but your timing makes that very unlikely. It should be in the early evening.

  11. Do decision letters and admission packages come separately? Or does everyone receive a decision letter and if accepted that’s followed by a package?

  12. Greetings,

    I have applied into the graduate program of Petroleum Engineering. I am wondering when I will receive the decision letter.

    USC is my first choice, before I zoom off to another program, I want to find out the likelihood of attending USC.


    1. Hi Fatimah, You should reach out to the department directly. This blog focuses on undergraduate admission.

  13. Your words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding us that your hearts sing and break along with ours during these anxiety-ridden months 💙 My daughter, Ava, will be applying to your beautiful university this fall. We will be in good company 💙

  14. As a 2nd time USC parent, I can empathize with people who waited for their package. In both my children cases, the acceptance did not come in until the very last day. In one of their cases, the portal was updated before the box came in. For both of them, it was their dream school, and kept us on tenterhooks until the very last minute ! Exciting but nerve wracking.

    Good luck to applicants to the class of 2023 !

  15. Regardless of your getting an acceptance or not, please remember that you are already a “shining star” to get this far in the selection process, and never lose sight that you are still loved by many, many people!

    For perspective, our son was the first one from his highly-rated private school to be accepted into USC. Many of his good friends did not get into USC…he will openly tell you that they were just as deserving. Many of his USC classmates have made the same observations…they all say “why me?” Whether it is USC, or not, you will be a valued member of a school community no matter where you go! Make the very best of each and every opportunity. Take care…

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