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.

Trojan Family Weekend

This weekend is Trojan Family Weekend! Trojan Family Weekend is one of the most exciting, engaging, and long-standing traditions at USC. As you may have guessed, it is a weekend that brings parents, grandparents, and siblings to campus to experience some of the great things that USC offers our students on a daily basis.
The weekend begins on a Thursday with a few light activities. Families will have the opportunity to take self-guided tours of Heritage Hall as well as the Fisher Museum, attend classes with their students, and relax with evening socials.
On Friday, there are a number of lectures and presentations by our faculty and student resources staff. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from USC’s President Max Nikias, guest speaker Mark Hamill (yep, Luke Skywalker, himself), and Tim Gunn (of “Project Runway” fame) in Bovard Auditorium later in the evening. Friday also offers movie screenings, student theatrical performances, and concerts.
Saturday is game day at USC, and we have a special game for this year’s Family Weekend. Our Trojan Football team will take on sixth-ranked Stanford University at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Parents are welcome to attend the game after a day of brunches and tailgating on campus. The official Trojan Family tailgate offers all you can eat BBQ! Sunday offers many activities hosted by some of the religious organizations on campus, sororities, and a Tribute to Troy from our basketball teams.
As I mentioned, Trojan Family Weekend is designed to give our students’ relatives the chance to really engage themselves with USC and come together as one big, happy Trojan Family. It is a fun weekend and truly embodies the spirit of the Trojan Family.

Things to do at USC

Students are always interested in what there is to do on campus.  Of course, there are clubs and organizations, athletics, Greek life, movie screenings, guest lectures, community service programs, and many other things. Two USC signature programs that I always highlight to prospective students are Visions and Voices and What Matters to Me and Why. These programs are unique to USC and are both manifestations of the values of the University as they seek to expand students’ perspectives through highlighting the diversity of experience that surrounds us all.

Visions and Voices was created in 2006 by USC President C.L. Max Nikias when he was the University’s provost. The program was designed to reflect the rich cultural opportunities of the city of Los Angeles, and beyond.  Visions and Voices is an arts and humanities program, and its events are designed to attract students from all disciplines at the University. Highlights of the series this year include a visit to the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA, a culinary tour of Thai Town, the three-day Comedy@SCA Festival, an evening with Romeo Dallaire the Canadian senator and humanitarian credited with saving 32,000 lives in Rwanda, and a performance by San Francisco’s LINES Ballet. And I can’t leave out one of the most interdisciplinary events, “Wonderland and the Mathematical Imaginary,” an entirely new look at Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, lead by a science writer, a math professor, and an English professor.

What Matters to Me and Why is a speaker series sponsored by the Office of Religious Life. The program is designed to give students the opportunity to learn a bit more about the values, beliefs, and motivations of those who shape the University today. This year students have had the opportunity to hear from; Reverend Cecil Murray, one of the most influential ministers in Los Angeles who is also on our faculty, and Professor Paul Frommer, the creator of the Na’vi language you may have heard in James Cameron’s “Avatar.” I had the opportunity to attend the talk by Elizabeth Garrett the current provost of USC.  Provost Garrett has had an epic career (and that may be an understatement).  One thing that I took away from her presentation was that she believed in the idea of being open to new and unexpected opportunities. She credits most of her career to taking advice from some of her teachers and professors in looking outside of her immediate world (which was Oklahoma at the time) and to take on interesting opportunities as they reveal themselves, rather than trying to stick to a set path. I loved that! This is one of my favorite events to attend at USC, and it’s not just because there is a free lunch involved, it’s because it is such a human and communal experience.

For both of those programs my explanations above are just the tip of the iceberg. I absolutely encourage you to check out their websites to learn about all of the great events they have coming up!