Transfer Talk Tuesday: Relationships with Advisor/Faculty

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Hi, my name is Ellie Chen and I’m currently a junior transfer student majoring in Business Administration and pursuing my master’s in Finance as part of USC’s Progressive Degree program. For those who are not familiar, the Progressive Degree Program offers selective master degrees to undergraduate students who want to pursue a master’s while still being an undergraduate. (For those who are interested in learning more regarding the Progressive Degree Program, click here). I transferred to USC after my freshman year at a smaller private university and spent my sophomore year online. As a junior, I’m so grateful to finally be on campus and I currently work in the USC’s Office of Admission as a Transfer Ambassador, which helps prospective community college students. 

Throughout my time at USC, my academic advisor has been so helpful with planning out my classes, exploring different minors, or discussing different upper-division classes to take. When I first transferred to USC, I wasn’t sure about which classes to take as a sophomore and the different career options within such a broad major like Business Administration. However, my Marshall academic advisor reached out to me the summer before my first semester to help me pick courses for the upcoming school year and create a tentative schedule of classes to make sure I fulfilled all of the requirements. On top of this information regarding classes, she also gave me tips on how to explore my interests within the realm of business both inside and outside of the classroom. As the semesters progressed, my advisor updated my class schedule and, if I had any problems, it was easy to schedule an appointment with her to get advice regarding which upper-division courses best fit my interests, whether or not to take some of my classes Pass/No Pass, or any other academic problems I faced.  

On top of guiding students with their academics, advisors are also incredibly knowledgeable in all of the resources offered by USC. For example, when I was first considering whether or not to apply for the Progressive Degree Program, my advisor encouraged me to schedule a one-on-one chat with a Marshall career counselor who is informed on the topic. (For more information regarding the Marshall Career Center, click here). The chat ended up being really helpful and, when I decided to pursue the program, my advisor worked with me to create a course plan that fulfilled both my undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.  

All in all, my advisor made such a big difference when it came to my transition to USC as she relieved so much stress I had regarding course scheduling and transfer credits. I’m so grateful for my advisor in supporting and guiding me in my academic journey here at USC and maximizing my college experience.  

Written by Ellie Chen, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying Business Administration. 

Transfer Talk Tuesday: Transfer Journey – First Generation Student 

Transfer Talk Tuesdays are a series of personal blogs where current USC transfer students dive deeper into their real-life stories, perspectives, and experiences in transferring to USC. Note that each transfer application is unique and there are no guaranteed paths to transfer. For guidance on how to put together a competitive transfer application, please review our Transferring to USC brochure. 

Eliana Cotom is a junior from Los Angeles, California, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education and Society. In 2020, she transferred from Santa Monica College (SMC) to USC. In addition to being a Transfer Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admission, Eliana is also a Dornsife Intern and is involved with student clubs at USC.  

Attending USC had always been my dream, yes I know…very cliche but true. Growing up around USC, I always wanted to attend and be a part of the Trojan family.  

Like many first-generation students, I was unable to ask parents or family members for guidance on what to expect from the college application process, how to answer certain questions, or how to consider what college was the best fit – so – I heavily depended on school and outside resources for guidance. There is an extra layer of stress, anxiety, worry, and pressure that many first-generation students can resonate with. This ranges from the stress, worry, anxiety of entering the application process on your own, how to attend college without being a financial burden on family, the pressure of being the role model for those who follow, and figuring out how to apply for scholarships and financial aid without much help. I remember having to navigate the application portal and figuring out financial aid on my own. There were many questions that I didn’t even know I had until I reached an issue, because I didn’t know what to expect from the application process. I went through the first-year application process almost completely alone, and the transfer process with guidance, but even with guidance I still felt anxious, worried, and stressed.  Applying and transferring to USC was a journey of its own but attending a community college was definitely helpful in learning to adjust to college courses, gaining independence, and growing as a student and person. During my time at SMC, I had a variety of resources at my disposal and was even able to have resources from USC specifically that helped me navigate through the transfer process more easily. One tip I will give for prospective transfers is to make appointments with your counselor, get to know them, and make yourself known. My counselor was very helpful in my transfer process. Many first-gens are lost in the first-year college application process already, and the transfer process is a completely new experience for many, so reaching out to your counselor is very helpful – you can even reach out to your assigned USC Admission Counselor. Another tip I will give, especially for those attending California Community Colleges (CCCs) is to constantly look at the articulation agreements that USC has with CCCs – this document was my best friend when looking for classes. I cannot emphasize this enough for CCC students. USC also has a handful of resources specific to transferring to USC, such as the Transferring to USC brochure

Many questions and worries that first-gens have when applying, including myself, are regarding finances and affordability. I am happy to say that USC has a handful of scholarships for admitted students and provides full USC determined financial need (please keep in mind that this number is determined by USC, not the student). USC has scholarships that are geared towards first-gen students and low-income students, such as the Norman Topping Scholarship and specific scholarships based on communities that one identifies with. More scholarships can be found here. Another worry that I had (I receive a lot of questions about this too) is about inclusivity and diversity here at USC. The school has a handful of resources and student organizations that provide students a space to feel at home and find support and “your people.”  

One key differentiator that USC has is definitely the Trojan Family. The USC logo is recognizable worldwide. I have heard stories about people being in different continents while wearing USC merchandise, seeing the “V for Victory” sign and hearing “Fight On” from random people. Explaining the Trojan Family is much harder than expected because it goes beyond words but simply put, it is a family that provides connections and support.   

Before attending USC I had already heard and known about the Trojan Family, but I had never truly experienced it until I was attending USC and began telling people that I was a USC student. I would create connections with people from simply stating I was a USC student.  

Lastly, I encourage everyone to apply to USC, especially first-gen and low-income students. Entering a new environment is scary, and being a transfer student and being first-gen makes the process a lot more nerve-wracking, but this should not discourage anyone from applying. USC has a multitude of resources for its students. If you’re worried about finances, apply to scholarships both in and outside of USC. If you’re worried about whether you’ll fit in because you’re a transfer student, a first-gen student, and/or low income, there are many clubs and organizations (such as the First Gen+ Center on campus where you can find community. ) If you’re worried about being seen differently because you’re first- gen or a transfer student, believe me – you won’t. Everyone here has their own journey. My overall piece of advice is to apply, apply, apply.   

Written by Eliana Cotom, (she/her/hers), 3rd year at USC studying Psychology.


The Skinny on Spring Grade Requests

It’s a busy time of year in the Office of Admission, but when is it not busy? Our counselors have already selected and notified first-year applicants of their admission decision, and we are now very eager to admit future Trojans who applied in our transfer process.  

We know that you have been on the other side of the deadline for some time, and we understand that waiting is the worst! While we never want this process to be overly stressful, we know that that’s just how it goes this time of year.  But the wait will be over soon! Our notification deadline for transfer applicants is May 31, 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 always the most reliable place to get accurate information), so let’s get to the heart of it. Why might we want to see how you did this term? 

  1. We want to confirm your strong college-level work.
    It is very common for us to request spring grades from students who are in their first year of college. USC’s academic environment is rigorous, and we want to be sure that the students we accept will be successful in their coursework here. There are many aspects of an academic record that are worthy of consideration, and we often want to see at least a full year of college grades in order to confidently admit a student. This may also be a factor if your transcript is mostly P/NP due to COVID-related grading policies.
  2. You are in the process of meeting a requirement or a recommended course.
    USC has both a writing and a minimum math requirement for transfer students. If you are receiving a spring grade request, it is possibly because we want to confirm you have met that requirement before advancing you in the process. Furthermore, you may be taking coursework that is relevant to your major (e.g., calculus for a business major, biology for a neuroscience major), and we’re waiting on those grades to evaluate your preparation for that field of study.
  3. You have been showing potential, and we are hopeful that you will show improved grades.
    We know that the transition to college can be difficult, and sometimes students take a bit of time to get their feet under them. It is not uncommon for us to request spring grades from students who haven’t been performing at the level we’d like to see, but who we think might be stronger with another semester of coursework under their belt.

A request for spring grades does not guarantee an offer of admission or indicate a leaning towards admission or denial. If you receive a request for spring grades, it is because we do not yet have enough information to make a decision either way. Admission to USC is competitive and not just a matter of checking off boxes. While academic performance is the focus of our review, we are also looking at your writing, reviewing your academic department supplements, and assessing your fit with the selected majors. How you perform in the spring will help us make our final call, but spring grades do not dictate our decision-making process. Doing well certainly helps, but there is so much we take into consideration. At the end of the process, we are not only considering your preparation for USC, but also how you fit into our larger transfer class. For that reason, we aren’t always able to provide admission decisions immediately after receiving your spring transcript. 

If you receive a request for spring grades, we want to see your final spring grades. Progress reports will not be sufficient. We know that this may mean we will not have your spring grades until later in the spring/summer. We require that students submit their spring transcripts by June 30 for consideration. We do not require an official spring transcript to fulfil our request. Submitting an official transcript from your school takes a lot of time, so we encourage students to upload an unofficial copy of their final spring grades in their USC Applicant Portal. This will help speed up the review process. While waiting is hard (and we understand that our transfer process runs later than most), our final decisions for students will come out by mid-July. If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to let us know! 

Fight On!