Undergraduate Admission Blog

Follow the Official USC Undergraduate Admission Blog for information, advice, and a behind-the-scenes look at our process

All posts by: Brittany Baker-Brousseau

August 16, 2018

What Should My College Essay be About?

Students frequently ask what they should write about–there is really no way for an admission counselor to answer this question. You know yourself best and you know what is important to share. All college essays must contain two elements, however: the illustration and the insight. The illustration element can take many shapes, but most students use an anecdote or series of moments to illuminate their personality and experiences. The insight element can be separate or intertwined, but a strong college essay always includes some type of analysis. Your goal in a personal statement is not only to introduce us to yourself but to show us how you think. That all sounds very heady, but your high school career has prepared you to write a good essay. Now the trick is to make it personal…which is usually where students start to panic.

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August 9, 2018

If Goldilocks Gave Essay Advice

The most important part of your essay is the content. Your experiences, your thoughts, your understanding of your world—that’s what we are looking for. Style, however, can either elevate an essay or make it practically unreadable. I often find that my advice on style is met with quizzical expressions. My points, to be frank, are often conflicting, and it is obvious that the students I speak with are looking for a clear guideline—a guaranteed how to—on writing a memorable and successful college essay. I don’t blame them. The college process has many unknowns, and it’s natural to want a concrete piece of advice that will improve your application. While there is certainly guidance I can provide on essay writing, each tip often comes with a qualifier. I often find myself sounding a bit like Goldilocks as she sampled the bears’ porridge and beds: this essay is too “x,” this essay is too “y.” The purpose of this post is to try to help you find the sweet spot for your essay. We want it to be “just right.”

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July 12, 2018

So You Want to be a Lawyer?

USC Pre-Law Advising offers academic guidance and programming for both USC students and alumni across all academic units in their exploration and pursuit of a legal education. We help students navigate the law school admissions process and are a resource in enhancing Trojan applicants’ candidacy for law school admission, as well as determining whether or not law school is even right for them. There are no requirements and there is no distinction that appears on a student’s degree or transcript that identifies him/her as pre-law, rather the program allows you to utilize our pre-law advising services and resources that are designed expose you to the realities of the legal profession and help you make the most of your undergraduate years to strengthen your candidacy for law school admission.

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July 5, 2018

Politics, Religion, and Football: Addressing Personal Beliefs and Sensitive Topics in Your Application

Growing up, my parents taught me that there were three topics you should never broach at the dinner table: politics, religion, and football. These three things, they claimed, were so sensitive and so entrenched in personal opinion that to bring them up when there were forks and knives at hand’s reach would trigger an inevitably decline into awkward tension soon to be followed by bloodshed. While I appreciate my parents’ desire to put mild manners on the menu, I have to admit that I’m very encouraged by the willingness of our applicants to discuss difficult–and sometimes controversial–topics. College applications often provide insight into students’ values, opinions, and identities. There are many students out there who want to broach these subjects but may be confused about how to do so appropriately. Perhaps it’s something you’ve been interested in writing about, but you are concerned about being disadvantaged in the college admission process if you do. Let me set down my knife and fork for a moment so we can talk about it!

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June 28, 2018

So You Want to be a Doctor?


As I was cleaning out my apartment to move across town to start medical school, I came across my first notebook from general chemistry. Sifting through the pages, I’m brought back to the long nights in Fluor’s 7th floor lounge studying for midterms and finals, emailing professors for research, running late to club meetings, and waking up early Saturday mornings to volunteer at California Hospital in that forest green polo that singled out you out as the “pre-med.” In light of all this, it’s no surprise that if you type “pre-med” lifestyle into Google, the results are filled with countless guides on “surviving” pre-med. I want to do something different: I want to show you how pre-med can be a time of exploration.

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May 17, 2018

The Skinny on Spring Grade Requests

Our notification deadline for transfer applicants is May 31st, and while most students will find out whether they have been admitted or not by that date, many applicants will receive spring grade requests. There’s a lot of speculation as to why we request spring grades (and let’s be honest, online forums are not the place to get accurate information), so let’s get to the heart of it. Why might we want to see how you did this semester?

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May 10, 2018

Throwback Thursday

If you walk around campus today, you will see clusters of cardinal and gold balloons, gaggles of proud parents, and lots and lots of folding chairs. Tomorrow, our senior class will move the tassels on their caps from right to left and become graduates of the University of Southern California. We are excited to celebrate the success of our soon-to-be alumni, but this is also a time of great nostalgia. For these five friends who will graduate tomorrow, they not only have the last four years to look back on…but the last eleven! Take a look as they share their memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4etHxgEKQ3o&feature=youtu.be

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April 5, 2018

Making the Most of Explore USC

April is an exciting month–the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and college-bound seniors have a big decision to make! There are many factors that go into the final decision of where enroll, and we find one of the best ways to gather information is by going to admitted student events. USC offers a variety of programs–full day on-campus Explore programs (including those specifically for students admitted to the spring semester), part day Preview events, 2-hour admitted student tours, evening receptions in cities all over the world, and a huge Admitted Student Day to wrap things up. We highly recommend attending one of these events as you weigh your various offers of admission. Here’s how to make the most of them…

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March 8, 2018

Keep Calm and Fight On: Mental Health and Emotional Wellness Resources

We all get stressed out from time to time, but as students take on increasingly rigorous coursework and time-consuming activities, mental health and wellness is definitely something schools need to address. Increasingly, the national conversation around higher education has included these issues, as well as the kinds of support colleges are able to provide their students. Whether our Trojans are dealing with homesickness, a bit of test anxiety, or more serious difficulties like depression and trauma, USC offers an array of counseling services and trainings to help our students.

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March 1, 2018

Major Mondays: Studying Gerontology

Yes, we know we are posting this on a Thursday–but what can we do?! “Major Thursdays” just doesn’t have the same ring. Below is a blog from Sarah Wong, a senior at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Read on to learn more about one of our unique and beloved programs!

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