Picking the right college for YOU

              It’s the middle of April, which means high school students across the country have less than 2 weeks to make a huge decision: which college to attend for the next four years.  I remember quite vividly how I felt during the month of April when I was a high school senior—panic, excitement, pressure, fear of the unknown, and anticipation and hope for the future.  I spent weeks agonizing over different options and comparing colleges that, in hindsight, are like comparing apples and oranges.  Even so, I learned a lot from the experience and have found that there are different factors students take into account when making this life-changing decision.

  • Gut Feeling – By now, you’ve likely visited a college campus or many.  If not, now would be the time to take a virtual tour, read up on the college, and perhaps talk to current students.  Sometimes it comes down to a feeling that really tips the scales and helps a student decide which college campus they intend to call “home” for the better part of 4 years.  It may be because you felt comfortable at the school or felt like you recognized pieces of yourself in other students.  Or maybe you can’t explain it—maybe you saw something occur during a college visit that just clicked for you.  Whatever the case may be, a gut feeling can go a long way.
  • Pros and Cons – Quite the opposite of the gut feeling approach, making a pros and cons list or creating a chart that compares and contrasts colleges in different areas employs a more formulaic approach.  This can be helpful in organizing what you’re looking for in a college and what is truly of value to you.  Are you looking for opportunities to double major or pursue a minor?  Do you thrive in a large classroom setting or prefer more intimate, discussion-based classes?  Do you want to be near a city or in a small college town?  This method can often help you sort your thoughts and assessments.
  • Rankings, Reputation and Stereotypes – We’re all familiar with common stereotypes associated with different schools, however, these stereotypes often miss the mark—by a long shot.  I hear students who say they want to attend a “prestigious university” but they are unable to define what makes an institution “prestigious” or how this is going to affect their college experience.  Similarly, students will disregard a potential college due to a negative reputation and rumor they believe to be true.  It’s important to know your source and find out the truth about any schools you are considering.  Just because a college is ranked as a “top college” somewhere doesn’t mean that it’s the right college or best fit for everyone.  That includes you.

              There are many other factors, methods, and ways to evaluate what college will provide you with the ideal experience.  In the end, it’s probably best to pick the school that you identify with in some way.

Decisions, Decisions

     Oh, how the tables have turned! For months and months students have been waiting patiently to hear back from USC with their admission decision. Those decisions have been made and now we are waiting anxiously to hear whether or not you are going to come to USC. We know that each and every one of our admitted students is a great fit. We also know that you will have many great options and that you have a really tough decision to make in just under a month. We want to help make that decision a little easier so we have programs throughout the month of April that are designed to show why USC is the right fit.

     Your admit packet includes a brochure with all of your options. I highly encourage you to attend at least one of the programs we offer before making a final decision. Even if you’ve been to campus several times or you’ve attended a fall off-campus reception, the admitted student programs will enable you to see the University through a much different perspective- now you’re an admitted student! By now you probably have many questions about USC. Why should I choose USC? What will the incoming class look like? Social life? Academic resources? Housing options? Financial aid? The admitted student programs are designed to give answers to these questions and many more. Parts of some of our programs are specifically designed for you to learn more about your admission to the spring term or to introduce you to the diverse communities on campus. We really do want to help you make the best decision.

     We in the Office of Admission are very excited to meet you after spending months and months getting to know you through your application, so when you do come visit us either at our on-campus programs or off-campus receptions, be sure to introduce yourself. This week I’ll be heading down to South Florida to work on my tan, eat some Cuban food, and take some great photos. But most importantly, I am looking forward to seeing all of my students at the Miami program on Wednesday night!

Once again congratulations on your admission and we hope to see you soon!

If it seems easy, you’re not doing it right

Today’s post is written by guest blogger Kirk Brennan, Director of Admission.

Well, the hour has arrived. The long reading process has come to an end.

Many different emotions compete for my attention, which makes it difficult for me to begin. My mind is racing. So I’ll begin with the simple stuff: some basic numbers.

We received nearly 46,000 applications from first-year students, 24% more than last year. We offered fall admission to about 8,400 students, and we expect roughly 2,650 students will accept our offer. The average GPA of the 8,400 is higher than 3.8 on an unweighted scale. The middle-50% SAT range is 2060-2250, and the middle-50% ACT range is 30-34. Students come from all 50 states, over 70 different countries, and from all walks of life. And lots of them really like sushi.

There is difficult stuff: First, we are tired. Since mid-November, this outstanding team has put it all on the line. We read, calculate GPAs, write notes, click and scroll through student files, weighing and comparing, all on behalf of those who applied. We are also sad. As we began reading, we met many outstanding students. But at the finish, we must make difficult, even painful decisions. We take the role of advocate very seriously, so when we realize we must bid farewell to many perfectly suitable candidates, we get a little cranky. We have a saying around the office: if it seems easy, you’re not doing it right.

And lots of good stuff: We are excited. We can’t wait to learn who will be enrolling at USC next year *. We are inspired, filled with hope for our future. So many of our high school students are filled with optimism, and they fully expect, even assume they will take the world in a better direction. What a great job we have — daydreamers of sorts: we read about the great dreams of our students, and we imagine them in our community — in our labs, libraries, classrooms, symposia — making those dreams come true. The future sure looks bright from where I sit.

I hope all students who stumble into this blog find the right school for them: one that will help them reach their full potential, to soar to unimaginable heights.


* Are you coming? Why wait to tell us? Go ahead and submit your Enrollment Commitment Deposit at usconnect.usc.edu.