Undergraduate Admission Blog

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Category Archives: Staff Bloggers

September 20, 2018

Rethinking the End Game

While the most obvious and logical goal of applying to college is being accepted to college, I would argue that it should not be your only goal. During the years I worked in a high school, I was amazed by the exponential emotional and social growth I saw in the senior class. Much of this development, I would argue, is supported (if not instigated) by the college process. My colleague Samantha Schreiber, Associate Director of College Counseling & Academic Planning at Milken Community Schools, and I sat down to discuss the ways that seniors grow (whether or not they are aware of it)! In her role as a college counselor, she not only has a “front row seat” but is able to actively encourage and support students as they grow in their maturity and self-knowledge. Our hope is that, by acknowledging these opportunities for development, those who are involved in the college application process (be they student, parent, counselor, or anyone else) can come to appreciate a broader view of what success is and how applicants can gain more from this process than just a place to spend the next four years. Here’s some of what Samantha and I have observed:

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September 6, 2018

If You Change Your Mind: Internal Only Majors

One of the first things prospective students learn when visiting the USC campus is that almost all of our admitted students are admitted directly into a specific major. We have over one hundred and fifty majors so there’s a lot of variety when it comes to picking one, and often students tell me they are a little overwhelmed with the options. It’s also totally normal for the average seventeen year old to feel uneasy about committing to one academic subject immediately upon entering college. Luckily, the commitment is not one that lasts a lifetime, or even a full academic year. Did you know that USC offers certain majors that aren’t available on the Common Application, because they are programs that students can only internally transfer into once they get here? Many of these programs are pretty focused and specific, so it’s more common to discover these interests while studying for another major at USC. For example….

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August 23, 2018

Supplementary, My Dear Watson! Breaking Down the USC Supplement

Within the Common Application, the USC Writing Supplement is one of the best ways for applicants to introduce themselves to the university and convey their interest in pursuing their academic studies here. This blog will provide some “clues” about the different components of the USC Writing Supplement and help applicants put their best foot forward when completing this part of the application.

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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 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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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 10, 2018

Throwback Thursday

If you walk around campus today, you will see clusters of cardinal and gold balloons, gaggles of proud parents, and lots and lots of folding chairs. Tomorrow, our senior class will move the tassels on their caps from right to left and become graduates of the University of Southern California. We are excited to celebrate the success of our soon-to-be alumni, but this is also a time of great nostalgia. For these five friends who will graduate tomorrow, they not only have the last four years to look back on…but the last eleven! Take a look as they share their memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4etHxgEKQ3o&feature=youtu.be

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