Undergraduate Admission Blog

Follow the Official USC Undergraduate Admission Blog for information, advice, and a behind-the-scenes look at our process

Category Archives: Applying to USC

August 16, 2018

What Should My College Essay be About?

Students frequently ask what they should write about–there is really no way for an admission counselor to answer this question. You know yourself best and you know what is important to share. All college essays must contain two elements, however: the illustration and the insight. The illustration element can take many shapes, but most students use an anecdote or series of moments to illuminate their personality and experiences. The insight element can be separate or intertwined, but a strong college essay always includes some type of analysis. Your goal in a personal statement is not only to introduce us to yourself but to show us how you think. That all sounds very heady, but your high school career has prepared you to write a good essay. Now the trick is to make it personal…which is usually where students start to panic.

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August 9, 2018

If Goldilocks Gave Essay Advice

The most important part of your essay is the content. Your experiences, your thoughts, your understanding of your world—that’s what we are looking for. Style, however, can either elevate an essay or make it practically unreadable. I often find that my advice on style is met with quizzical expressions. My points, to be frank, are often conflicting, and it is obvious that the students I speak with are looking for a clear guideline—a guaranteed how to—on writing a memorable and successful college essay. I don’t blame them. The college process has many unknowns, and it’s natural to want a concrete piece of advice that will improve your application. While there is certainly guidance I can provide on essay writing, each tip often comes with a qualifier. I often find myself sounding a bit like Goldilocks as she sampled the bears’ porridge and beds: this essay is too “x,” this essay is too “y.” The purpose of this post is to try to help you find the sweet spot for your essay. We want it to be “just right.”

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July 26, 2018

Student Highlight: Pursuing a Progressive Degree at USC

This week’s student blog comes from Nisha Malhotra, a rising senior at USC from Glendale, CA. Nisha is majoring in Narrative Studies with a double-minor in Cinematic Arts and Screenwriting. She is involved in various organizations across campus, including being a writer for the TrojanVision show, “The Breakdown,” a member of the Women’s Leadership Society, and a tour guide in the Admission Center. Nisha was recently accepted to a progressive degree program here at USC and is sharing her journey through this process in her blog.

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July 19, 2018

How to Transfer to USC

Transfer students are important to USC, and the Office of Admission is here to help you navigate the application process. This guide will provide a breakdown of how to present a strong transfer application to USC. We’re sharing this information with you now, during the summer, so that any prospective transfer student can develop a course plan.

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July 12, 2018

So You Want to be a Lawyer?

USC Pre-Law Advising offers academic guidance and programming for both USC students and alumni across all academic units in their exploration and pursuit of a legal education. We help students navigate the law school admissions process and are a resource in enhancing Trojan applicants’ candidacy for law school admission, as well as determining whether or not law school is even right for them. There are no requirements and there is no distinction that appears on a student’s degree or transcript that identifies him/her as pre-law, rather the program allows you to utilize our pre-law advising services and resources that are designed expose you to the realities of the legal profession and help you make the most of your undergraduate years to strengthen your candidacy for law school admission.

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July 5, 2018

Politics, Religion, and Football: Addressing Personal Beliefs and Sensitive Topics in Your Application

Growing up, my parents taught me that there were three topics you should never broach at the dinner table: politics, religion, and football. These three things, they claimed, were so sensitive and so entrenched in personal opinion that to bring them up when there were forks and knives at hand’s reach would trigger an inevitably decline into awkward tension soon to be followed by bloodshed. While I appreciate my parents’ desire to put mild manners on the menu, I have to admit that I’m very encouraged by the willingness of our applicants to discuss difficult–and sometimes controversial–topics. College applications often provide insight into students’ values, opinions, and identities. There are many students out there who want to broach these subjects but may be confused about how to do so appropriately. Perhaps it’s something you’ve been interested in writing about, but you are concerned about being disadvantaged in the college admission process if you do. Let me set down my knife and fork for a moment so we can talk about it!

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June 21, 2018

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.

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June 15, 2018

All’s Fair in College Fairs

College fairs. We know them. We love them. Almost every student will attend at least one fair before they graduate high school. But, the current college fair format has been around since the 1970s and really hasn’t changed so much. We wanted to ask ourselves – are college fairs still valuable? Now that so much information is available online, what can we do to get the most out of college fairs?

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May 17, 2018

The Skinny on Spring Grade Requests

Our notification deadline for transfer applicants is May 31st, 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 the place to get accurate information), so let’s get to the heart of it. Why might we want to see how you did this semester?

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May 3, 2018

How to Get to Know the University of Southern California without Leaving Your Couch

One of the most challenging parts of the admission process for many students is determining which college or university they want to apply to during their senior year. With over 5,300 amazing institutions across the United States, it is impossible to visit every single one to get a sense of what it has to offer to a prospective student. To help make this process a bit easier for potential applicants, we have put together a list of different resources that students can use to begin to get to know our campus without leaving the comfort of their couch. We hope you enjoy!

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