October 12, 2018
While applying to college requires students spend countless hours navigating university websites and inputting data in the Common App, it is still fundamentally a human process. While the bots might be up to all kinds of things these days, USC continues to employ a large group of humans to serve applicants as admission counselors. Responsible for everything from presenting at your high school to attending your transfer fair to reading your application, the people in our office are happy to meet you and help guide you through this process.
September 20, 2018
While the most obvious and logical goal of applying to college is being accepted to college, I would argue that it should not be your only goal. During the years I worked in a high school, I was amazed by the exponential emotional and social growth I saw in the senior class. Much of this development, I would argue, is supported (if not instigated) by the college process. My colleague Samantha Schreiber, Associate Director of College Counseling & Academic Planning at Milken Community Schools, and I sat down to discuss the ways that seniors grow (whether or not they are aware of it)! In her role as a college counselor, she not only has a “front row seat” but is able to actively encourage and support students as they grow in their maturity and self-knowledge. Our hope is that, by acknowledging these opportunities for development, those who are involved in the college application process (be they student, parent, counselor, or anyone else) can come to appreciate a broader view of what success is and how applicants can gain more from this process than just a place to spend the next four years. Here’s some of what Samantha and I have observed:
September 6, 2018
One of the first things prospective students learn when visiting the USC campus is that almost all of our admitted students are admitted directly into a specific major. We have over one hundred and fifty majors so there’s a lot of variety when it comes to picking one, and often students tell me they are a little overwhelmed with the options. It’s also totally normal for the average seventeen year old to feel uneasy about committing to one academic subject immediately upon entering college. Luckily, the commitment is not one that lasts a lifetime, or even a full academic year. Did you know that USC offers certain majors that aren’t available on the Common Application, because they are programs that students can only internally transfer into once they get here? Many of these programs are pretty focused and specific, so it’s more common to discover these interests while studying for another major at USC. For example….
August 16, 2018
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.
August 9, 2018
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.”
July 12, 2018
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.
July 5, 2018
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!
June 28, 2018
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.
May 17, 2018
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?
May 10, 2018
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.