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