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.

Essay Tips

The infamous college essay. For most colleges, this is a required part of the application. For some of you, this may be a major source of stress within the application process. While there’s no perfect essay, topic, or approach, there are some general tips that may be helpful when writing your college essays.

Admission counselors at USC view the essay as our opportunity to get to know applicants better. Since we use a holistic review process, we hope to gain more insight into who our applicants are beyond just grades and test scores. While it is not about the topic you choose to write about, it is more about how that topic is relevant to your life. We realize that you may have many different people providing input and helping you edit your essay, but we are genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say and what you want to write about. Your essay shouldn’t be what your friend’s parent’s cousin’s dog’s owner wrote for their college application; your essay should reflect your voice, interests, and individual personality.

Another general tip is knowing your audience. Although you can’t anticipate the sense of humor of who will read your application, you can use common sense. I’ve read essays in the past that use slang, swear words, or internet and text abbreviations. These are not appropriate for the standard college essay! While we like to see students who try something different in their essay, just keep in mind that you also don’t want to offend someone who reads your writing. At the very least, you know that the audience for your college essay will not be your peers.

This may be obvious advice as well, but spelling and grammar can make a difference. It’s so easy to use spell check these days that I’m often surprised when I find students who haven’t mastered how to spell words like “definitely.” Although we are looking at the college essay more for the content than anything else, it can be hard to ignore multiple glaring mistakes in one essay or application. Writing is an important part of being a college student, thus we want to make certain that students have the ability to write an essay with a solid structure while paying attention to spelling and grammar.

At the end of the day, it’s important to follow your heart and write about what comes naturally to you. We read many different types of essays and many essays that have a similar theme. What we’re most interested in reading is the essay that you want to write, that reflects your voice, and tells us more about what makes you special.

Music & Los Angeles

          I once had an applicant describe Los Angeles as a “magical place” where one can do just about anything that meets their interest. With a plethora of entertainment options, USC students never fall short of something to do in the city of LA. One of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles is to go to concerts, so I will often highlight the eclectic music scene in LA in my USC presentations.  I love being able to tell prospective students that if they have never had the opportunity to see some of their favorite performers live in concert, they will have that opportunity in Los Angeles. LA is almost always on a performer’s tour schedule and sometimes it’s the only stop!

          USC has a number of concerts held on campus throughout the year. Early this year I had the opportunity to see Esperanza Spalding at  Bovard Auditorium just days after she won the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist.  Last Tuesday, I saw Portishead at the Shrine Auditorium , which is located directly across the street from USC. The Shrine Auditorium historically was the home to the Academy Awards and still hosts a number of award shows, graduations, proms, musical performances, and other events.

          Just three miles north of campus is the Nokia Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Staples Center. The Staples Center is where the NBA LA Lakers and Clippers, NHL Kings, and WNBA Sparks play. The Staples Center is also a large music venue for some of the biggest touring artists of the day. Last fall I saw Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd) perform “The Wall” at The Staples Center.

          In Hollywood there are countless other historic venues such as The Wiltern, The Music Box, The Hollywood Palladium, and the grand daddy of them all the Hollywood Bowl . The Hollywood Bowl is a massive outdoor amphitheatre that holds nearly 18,000 people. I have personally seen John Mayer and Radiohead there. The Bowl also hosts a number of performances by the LA Philharmonic, musical sing-alongs, as well as an annual concert by film composer John Williams. Williams has composed some of Hollywood’s most memorable films, including Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jaws, and Star Wars.

          Ten miles north of campus is Griffith Park. Griffith Park is a very large municipal park and home to amazing hiking trails, the LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, and my personal favorite, the Greek Theatre. The Greek Theatre is a rather intimate outdoor amphitheatre that is most active during the spring and summer months, but hosts concerts year round. I have had the pleasure of seeing Florence and the Machine, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lykke Li, and Adele at the Greek.

          I am sure that I left out countless other musical venues in Los Angeles, but as I explained earlier, there is simply too much to cover about music in LA.