GUEST BLOG: Summer Vacation is Upon Us!

From what I have been told, I am now a grownup, and with that, I no longer get the glorious 2 ½ month summer vacation I so much enjoyed when I was a teenager. Nevertheless, even for those of us who work in college admission, the summer months of June, July, and half of August provide some time to relax, reflect on the year that was, and start setting the table for what we hope is another fruitful admission cycle. And while we here at USC certainly admit that campus is a bit less exciting with all our students out and about for the summer, we would be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy the slightly shorter lines at the many eateries around campus, but that is beside the point.

As high school students wrap up another school year, we in the college admission world are often asked by students (and especially, by their parents) on how they might spend those summer months in a way that will “stand out” to those of us responsible for reading your applications. Ultimately, how you students spend your time is up to you, and we are in no position to tell you what you should or should not do during your much deserved summer vacation. But here is one admission counselor’s take on some fun summer activities that might leave you with a good story or experience to then share on your college applications:

Consider finding a part-time job.

As I get further and further removed from my own high school years, and look back on the activities I participated in that continue to have the greatest effect on who I am today, the one that stands out the most are the summer jobs I applied for and was lucky enough to receive. One year, I worked the concession stand at the local movie theater. In another summer, I worked as a house painter.

Both experiences were the first time I had a “boss” who wasn’t a parent or a club moderator at school. I was working with other adults and had to learn how to talk to other adults, despite being just 16 and 17 years old. If I made a mistake, it was up to me to figure out how to solve the problem, and I can think of no other skill that proved to be more important as I went through my college career.

It was also nice to walk away with a little spare change in my pocket that was mine and mine alone. I’ll never forget opening up that first paycheck from the movie theater for $79.08, and thinking I had won the lottery.

Read the newspaper!

There has never been a time in human history where so much information has been at our fingertips. The challenge is figuring out what to do with all this information, and trying to put it all together to make sense of the world.

One of the first real eye-opening experiences for any new college student is arriving to campus and meeting hundreds of new students who have all had different life experiences from his or her own. You will do yourself a big favor if you are able to hold an informed, respectable conversation with someone new you meet in college. Monthly online subscriptions to publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, or Wall Street Journal are the cost of a couple cups of coffee at Starbuck’s. And who knows? Maybe you will start to learn more about a topic that could turn into a spark for what you want to major in during college, or where you might like to study abroad.

Go to a local park, or to a local shopping mall, turn off the cell phone, and just do some people watching.

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast…If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I get the impression from students that when they are trying to think up a story to write for their college essays, they often feel they have to share this seismic, one-of-a-kind story that will punch their tickets to any college or university of their choosing. It is a difficult task, to say the least.

So my advice to students is to take some time to just “think.” Get to know your hometown a little bit better, and some simple people watching can be the easiest way to do it. It is also an easy way to practice empathy, which is a skill that will serve you very well as a college student and beyond. The more time you take to give some thoughts to things, the easier it will be to put some ideas down in the essay.

Most importantly…relax and recharge!

No question, summer can be the best time to visit different colleges, make fun of the cheesy jokes told by college tour guides, and start crafting a college list. And if you are heading into your senior year of high school, you are on the cusp of a school year where it might seem like one thing after another, as you may be taking on your toughest class schedule to date, or may finally be the captain of the sports team or President of student government.

Therefore, learn to be okay with taking time to breathe during the summer, and dare I say, be a little lazy every now and then. Believe it or not, when I was in high school, MTV used to be a channel that only showed music videos, and I can’t tell you how much time I spent during my summer vacations just sitting and watching. And it felt really, really good! And when it was time for school to start up again, I felt rested, refreshed, and ready to go.

By: Michael Gulotta
Associate Director of Admission

Admitted Students Day!

This Saturday, April 28, the University of Southern California is hosting its annual Admitted Students Day open house program. We encourage all newly admitted first-years to attend. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about USC and connect with fellow students! Here are a few things those visiting campus on Saturday will be able to experience.

Welcome Gathering (10:30 to 11:30am)

We will kick off the day with some remarks from the Dean of Admission and the admission counselor team, followed by a performance from the world famous USC Marching Band!

Academic sessions (11:30am to 1:00pm)

After the welcome gathering, students and their families will break into groups and attend their academic department’s information session. This will be a great opportunity to ask questions about your school and learn more about majors, research, study abroad, and much more.

Various Tours (1:00 to 3:30pm)

We will be offering several types of tours throughout the day. Students and their families can go on a campus walking tour led by a current student who is an expert at providing valuable insights into the USC student experience (while walking backwards). Additionally, we will be offering bus tours of the surrounding neighborhood – these bus tours, led by an admission counselor, are a great opportunity to learn more about our community! Finally, there will be tours of several on-campus housing facilities. Students will be able to see both suite-style and residence hall housing options.

Meet with Financial Aid (10:00am to 3:30pm)

On the first floor of John Hubbard Hall, students and their families will have the chance to meet with a financial aid counselor and discuss how to finance their USC education. All students interested in receiving need-based financial aid (who haven’t done so already) should submit the FAFSA and the CSS Profile as soon as possible.

Information Fair (1:00 to 3:30pm)

USC is a big place with many departments dedicated to improving students’ experience. This fair, which lines Trousdale Parkway, will provide students an opportunity to meet with dozens of university representatives and learn more about academic offerings, cultural engagement, support services, and more.

Spring Admit Program (2:30 to 3:30pm)

Students admitted to the spring may have some questions about transitioning to USC, their options during the fall semester, and the next steps in enrolling – this session will answer those questions.

Other Fun! (All Day)

Admitted Students Day is, above all else, a celebration of our admitted students, full of revelry and campus pride. We want our students to have a great time while learning more about USC, so we’ve provided a few ways to tap into that spirit. There will be a photo station in front of Tommy Trojan; a picture with the most handsome man on campus is an obligatory part of the enrollment process! Also, students who have submitted their commitment deposit will be able to ring the iconic Victory Bell: our prize for defeating our crosstown rival last football season! (If you haven’t yet submitted the deposit, no worries – you can fill out a deposit form on Saturday.)

We will also be holding an Instagram contest! Students can win prizes based on posting their photos from Saturday with the hashtag, #IGotIntoUSC. And, speaking of Instagram… we understand that not every admitted student will be able to attend the event, so we will be broadcasting many of the day’s tours and sessions on our channel (@uscadmission). Current students will also be running our “Instagram Stories,” so you can get an inside perspective of the program’s highlights from the convenience of your couch!

Finally, along with the experiences described above, I’d encourage every family to check out the USC Village, the university’s new extension of campus. The USC Village is home to beautiful residence halls, a gymnasium, a Harry Potter-esque cafeteria, and many retail spaces – including a Target and a Trader Joes! Students should also take some time to explore the rest of campus. You never know what fun you will run into.

For example, perhaps you will discover an ATM that serves cupcakes, and maybe you will want to bring that cupcake to your admission counselor?

Next Steps for Spring Admits

If you were admitted to USC for the spring semester, congratulations! You are among a select group of students offered admission to the University of Southern California. We recognize, though, that you may have some questions about the next steps in enrolling.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Committing to USC

The deadline to submit your Intent to Enroll through is May 1. You must submit this in order to commit to USC. Additionally, if there are any fall openings, students will be considered for those spaces based on whether they have submitted their Intent to Enroll.

These decisions will be made in mid-May, and are based entirely on the institutional needs of the university. You should not submit any additional information, letters, or emails about your desire to move to the fall semester – once you submit the Intent to Enroll, you’re set.

Lastly, to finalize their commitment, spring admits are required to submit their Commitment Deposit by August 1.

Considering your options for the fall

Your admission to USC is secure for the spring term, so the decision of how you will spend the fall is up to you! You could enroll in community college to stay on track to graduate within four years, or even study abroad. USC has established partnerships with four American universities in Europe: American University of Paris; Richmond, The American International University in London; Franklin University Switzerland; and John Cabot University in Rome. Spring admits are welcome to apply to these institutions for the fall semester.

By attending one of these universities, spring admits will stay connected as a USC-bound cohort, making it easy to build a network of friends upon arriving in Los Angeles. Spring admits could also take time off to work, explore new cultures or participate in a service learning opportunity. The options listed here will help guide you.

Applying for financial aid

To apply for financial aid, students need to complete the 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at, along with the CSS Profile Application, which can be accessed at If interested, spring admits should apply for financial aid as soon as possible. Please visit for more information about the application process.

Applying for USC Housing

We offer all spring admits a space in USC Housing. We encourage you to submit your application for housing as soon as possible at The deadline is July 2. Spring admits are often grouped together within USC Housing, or they may fill a space in an apartment after a USC student has left to study abroad or graduate early.

Submitting transcripts and exam results

A common question from spring admits is whether they’re able to graduate within four years. The answer is typically yes. By taking appropriate coursework in the fall, spring admits remain on track to graduate. And, if they can submit AP exam scores for credit, their graduation could arrive even sooner! But, we need to receive those official scores, along with your transcripts. Spring admits need to submit their final high school transcript (listing their high school graduation date), along with any AP, IB, or A-Level exam results by July 1.

Attending Orientation

Orientation is an important part of transitioning to USC, and we have special Orientation programs specifically for students beginning in the spring semester. At Orientation, you will be able to register for your first semester of classes and meet other students. Once you have submitted your Commitment Deposit for the spring semester, you will receive an invitation to register for Orientation. You can visit for event information or to reserve your space.

If you have any remaining questions about spring admission, I’d encourage you to check out these Frequently Asked Questions. Or, if you’d like to chat with a current USC student who was once in your position, consider reaching out to one of the Spring Admit Ambassadors.

Fight on!