A Message from the Dean to the High School Class of 2021

By Timothy Brunold, Dean of Admission

We know that in these unprecedented times, students and their families are looking to the future with hope and anticipation. We also know that current high school juniors—students in the graduating class of 2021—may be worrying about how the pandemic might impact their college search and ability to gain admission to one of their top-choice universities.
Although there are still many unknowns ahead, we want to reassure prospective students, their families and the college counseling community that USC remains committed to flexibility and understands that we are all in this together. We hope that everyone involved can look to the year ahead with optimism, positivity and a sense of hope. We stand ready to find a way forward together.

After much consideration, we have adopted a test-optional policy for next year’s applicants. This will allow prospective first-year students to apply to USC for the 2021-22 Academic Year without submitting SAT or ACT scores, although students may still submit them if they wish. International applicants whose native language is not English must still submit TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo or PTE Academic scores.

Context and flexibility are longstanding hallmarks of USC’s holistic admission process. We are adept at considering students’ individual circumstances, the challenges they’ve faced and the specific context of their high school years. We are comfortable assessing different grading systems, curricula and modes of instruction and are confident in our ability to fairly consider students, with or without standardized test scores.

We advise next year’s high school seniors to focus on staying engaged in school and remaining healthy and well. There will be ample time in the months ahead for college research, exploration and discovery. Students cannot even begin the USC application process until August and our first application deadline isn’t until December 1st. For now, try not to stress too much about college. We’ll be here when you’re ready to engage with us.

Although it’s too soon to predict anything with certainty, we are hopeful that we will be welcoming campus visitors and visiting high schools again this fall. And of course, although you can’t currently visit our campus, we have developed a robust calendar of live virtual information sessions and tours (https://admission.usc.edu/meet-us/virtual-tour-programs/#/virtual-tours-and-programs).

Thank you for considering USC. We look forward to the day when we can meet with prospective students and college counselors in-person, both on our campus and in high schools across the world. Until then, here’s wishing you and your family good health, good spirits, and a speedy return to better times.

For answers to frequently asked questions, please see our website: https://admission.usc.edu/apply/test-optional-policy-faq/?fbclid=IwAR1Tskit1P8KrChVN3YcgtvCDtKPovk2ecFnaqbG61lhl-DzVUFPd712vLY

16 thoughts on “A Message from the Dean to the High School Class of 2021”

  1. This put the biggest smile on my face! But, just to make sure, does this also apply for all the colleges within USC like Marshall and Viterbi? If it’s a yes, you’ve just made me super happy 🙂

  2. Hi I hope you are well,

    How is USC Admissions responding to students who will apply to transfer in Fall 2020? Do you know about how receiving a W and Credit in one or two courses this Spring 2020 could affect an application?

    1. Hi, Justin! We will not let the crisis disadvantage students in our transfer process. We are being as flexible and understanding as possible.

  3. if we already took the test once & had our scores sent but are unsure if another opportunity will arise to take it again will that affect us ? or will there be more focus on gpa & holistic review ? so excited to apply , thanks so much !!

    1. Hi, Mya! You will be able to select whether you want us to consider your scores. If you select “no,” they will be hidden in our process and in no way considered.

  4. What an amazing, compassionate, and dynamic gesture of love, promise, and hope
    for the future in response to a very rocky and disconcerting year so far!!!!

    My name is Judah Adkins, I am a junior at Nevada Connections Academy, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and one day I hope, and would love to be a part of the USC student body, and culture.

    What an awesome place to learn and be a part of!!!!

  5. Hello!

    I have a question regarding BA in Economics degree at USC. The BA in Economics degree at USC’s one of the lower division requirements says “MATH 118x or 125: Calculus 1”. I was wondering what does the letter “x” after the 118 mean?

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