The High School GPA

Weighted, unweighted, academic – there are so many versions of this little number.  Some schools even calculate the GPA out to the thousandth place as if there were any material difference between a student with a 3.876 and a 3.877.  Some students even believe they don’t have a GPA simply because their school does not print it on the transcript (here’s a hint: if you get grades, you have a GPA, it’s just math). 

You’ve probably been led to believe that your high school GPA is one of the most important factors in the college admission process.  And it is – but only sort of.  It is, insomuch as your GPA is a neat calculation for all the grades you have received throughout high school.  But it really is just a shorthand for your overall transcript – and one that doesn’t do a very good job of distinguishing one student’s preparation from another. 

When we are reviewing a student’s transcript, we are focused on their overall academic preparation.  We do learn this from the grades on the transcript (which make up the GPA), but we learn at least as much from the courses you chose, how you progressed through high school, the subjects where you chose to challenge yourself, and what classes you have in progress even before you have earned any grades in them at all.  And we’re doing all of this while thinking about you in the context of your individual high school; we learn about different curricula, the baseline rigor that is offered at your school, and how students from your school have done when they have come to USC. 

Add to that all the other ways we learn about your academic preparation: your secondary school report, standardized testing (if you choose to submit any scores from various exams you have completed), letters of recommendation from teachers and counselors who talk about you in an academic setting, and through your own words as well. 

Which is all just to say that we are spending much more time looking at the courses and grades you have on your transcript and considering your overall academic preparation than we are thinking about the number that is calculated for the GPA.  So don’t worry about your GPA number – by the time you’re in the college application process any new grade you earn will only change your GPA by a small fraction.  Instead, spend time telling us about what excites you academically, how you have prepared for college, and why you think USC might be the right next step in your academic journey.  You have many opportunities throughout the Common App and USC Supplement to share your story with us and we are looking forward to getting to know you. 

Written by Becky Chassin, Assistant Dean of Admission 

USC’s Olympic Heritage and Athletic Tradition


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With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Closing ceremonies taking place just a few days ago, it felt apropos to reflect upon the Olympic Heritage and Athletics at USC! The Trojan tradition of winning at the Olympics can be dated back to 1904, when Emil Breitkreutz (Class of 1906) won the bronze medal in the 800-meter run at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Olympics. Since then, USC has not only sent hundreds of athletes to the Olympics but has also produced more overall medalists than any other university in the United States.  

As it stands, USC’s Olympians have won 155 gold medals, 98 silver medals, and 77 bronze medals in total. These accomplishments epitomize much more than just medals and a lasting place in sports history. In the words of USC President Carol L. Folt, “Every one of these Olympic performances represents more than a moment in time for our Trojan athletes — each race, game and match is also a tribute to the years of sacrifice and dedication that made them Olympians, as well as the support and love they received from those around them. These Trojans show the world what it means to ‘Fight On!’” 

Now, if you are similar to me and enjoy sports with a passion but may not necessarily be on the athletic talent-level of USC student-athletes (our Olympic tradition is unrivaled for a reason), you can still get involved in competitive and non-competitive sports at USC! Students at USC can participate in Club Sports and/or Intramural Sports to build connections, stay active and healthy, and more importantly, to have fun!  

Club Sports are student-run organizations that compete in intercollegiate events for various sports and activities. Not only are clubs independently run, but they also receive funding through Undergraduate Student Government (USG.) Current Clubs such as archery and tennis, for example, will typically hold practice a few times per week with competitions being held on weekends. As for Intramural Sports, it is a great opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to get involved in a litany of sports at numerous levels of competition. Whether it is competing in a 3v3 Outdoor Basketball league or in a 3v3 Outdoor Soccer league, there are plenty of ways to stay active while having fun. If you’re wondering about the competitiveness level between Club Sports and Intramural Sports, participation is much more leisurely in Intramural Sports as competition can range between one-day tournaments to six-week leagues. Essentially, USC Intramural Sports’ mission is to “promote an active lifestyle, student involvement, and safe environment.”  

Of course, USC students have the pleasure of watching their fellow Trojans compete in NCAA sports! Students can participate in the USC Game Day experience, witness the greatest marching band ever (The Spirit of Troy), and per tradition, kick the flag poles outside the Coliseum for good luck! Students also can incorporate Physical Education courses into their schedules. The USC Physical Education program “provides a variety of opportunities for students to improve their general health and fitness.” Through courses centered, for example, around the Mind and Body and Outdoor and Safety, students will be “better equipped to make choices regarding a healthy and active lifestyle.”  

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics brought tons of excitement, enthusiasm, and energy, making it somewhat difficult to not look forward to 2028 when the Olympics will be hosted by Los Angeles. As it did in the 1932 and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, USC will yet again play a pivotal role in the staging of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.  In 2028, the Coliseum will host portions of the Opening and Closing ceremonies as well as track and field events, while the site for swimming, diving and artistic swimming events will be Dedeaux Field, the Galen Center will serve as host for the badminton competition, and the USC campus will house both the main press center and media village.  

Whether it is through the 330 medals USC Olympians have won or through Club/Intramural Sports, the Olympic Heritage and fervent Athletic Tradition will forever be a part of USC. 

Check out these fun USC Olympic Facts and remember to Fight On! 

  • Going into the 2020 Olympic Games, if USC were a country entering its athletes in the Olympic Games, its 309 all-time Summer Olympics medals would place it 13th among all participating countries.  
  • For the third consecutive Olympics, USC sent more athletes (65) to compete in the Olympics – more than any other U.S. university.  47 USC Olympians competed in 2016 Rio Olympics and 41 competed in the 2012 London Olympics (tied with Stanford). 
  • 65 different National Olympic Committees have been represented by USC Olympians, the 2020 Games was the first time a USC Olympian has hailed from Croatia (Nikola Miljenic), Latvia (Tina Graudina) and  Tonga  (Noelani Day). 
  • Of the 472 all-time USC Olympians, 148 are female.  


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  • Two incoming USC first-year students competed in Tokyo:  swimmers  Marlene Kahler  of Austria and  Noelani Day  of Tonga.  
  • In addition to appearing in the Summer Games, USC athletes have competed in the Winter Olympics 11 times.
  • This was the sixth consecutive Summer  Olympics  that USC has been represented by at least 40 Olympians.  The  65  Tokyo Olympians are USC’s most ever in a Games.  Previously, USC’s 51 competitors in the 2008 Beijing Games were its most ever.  
  • USC has had Olympic athletes participate in 30 different sports in its history, but this will be the first time a Trojan has competed in skateboarding (Amelia Brodka).  Among the more unusual events for a Trojan:  George Roth won a gold medal in the 1932 Games in club swinging (part of the gymnastics competition).
  • USC’s 10 women’s water polo players in the Tokyo Games were its most at any Olympics and its 6 men’s water poloists were the most since 1956 (when it had 7). USC had more track and field athletes (15) in Tokyo than at any Olympics.   
  • Two 2020 USC Olympians were scheduled to carry their delegation’s flag in Tokyo during the opening ceremonies’ Parade of Nations:  swimmers  Robert Glinta  of Romania and  Yakov Toumarkin  of Israel.  
  • Of all the Pac-12 schools (also known as the Conference of Champions), USC has the most all-time Olympians.  

Written by: Andy T. Nguyen (Assistant Director, USC Office of Admission 

Celebrating Pride

The country’s reemergence from a nearly year-and-a-half long freeze is coinciding with one of the most wonderful times of the year: pride month. Despite some continued public health restrictions, USC made sure that June was full of pride celebrations, conversations, and events for the whole community.  

Here are just some of the events that USC hosted to celebrate and commemorate pride this month: 

  • Cultural Humility, Implicit Bias and Inclusive Language: A talk and lecture hosted by Professor Lindsey (Lawrence) Morrison, MHA, a Process Architect in the Value Improvement Office and the creator and chair of the Keck Pride committee 
  • OUTLOUD: Raising Voices: A star-studded, three-day, in-person concert hosted at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum  
  • LGBT+ Trivia: For the inner nerd in us all, USC Libraries hosted this event to test the community’s knowledge of LGBTQ+ history and icons.  
  • 2021 Morgan Stanley Asia LGBTQ+ Allies Virtual Coffee Chat: This virtual networking event gave current LGBTQ+ and Allied USC students the change to network with current Morgan Stanley employees from the company’s Asia Pride and allies network  

Beyond celebrating pride month, USC is committed to celebrating gender and sexual diversity every day of the year. The LGBTQ+ Student Center is the main LGBTQ hub on campus for students to seek support and build community. The center, which is located on the fourth floor of the Student Union Building, features the Lavender Lounge, a gathering space where student can hang out, enjoy free printing, and indulge in free coffee and tea.  

The center also hosts a few student groups including the First-year Advocacy Board (FAB), a group open to both first and transfer students and that focuses on helping students with the transition to USC. This is a great way to get involved with the center right away. In addition to FAB, the center is home to a few other affinity groups that host weekly meetings and conversations.  

  • Bi-Spaces: A closed group for students who identify as bisexual, polysexual, pansexual, and/or another non-monosexual identity 
  • Queer Fandom Fanatics: A space open to all to connect and “geek out” about pop culture 
  • QTPOC (Queer/Trans Person of Color) Lounge: A closed space to QTPOC-identified USC students to connect and build community 
  • Rainbow International: A closed space for international students who identify as LGBTQ+ to discuss their queer experiences around the world  
  • Queer Book Club: QUATRO (Queer and Ally Trojan Readers Online): This an open book club for all USC students; the group reads and discusses one LGBTQ+ book per semester  
  • Gender Nonconformity and Friends (GNAF): A student-led program to build community among gender-nonconforming students.  

Check out the LGBTQ+ Student Center on social.  

 As a prospective or incoming student, you might be wondering about the kinds of other programs and resources that USC has to offer around the LGBTQ+ community.  

You might want to check out some additional groups and resources for members of the Trojan Family: 

  • Academic Organizations: Rainbow Scholars, a student-run organization for students living on the Rainbow Floor, one of our special interest residential communities; SCA Queer Cut, an LGBTQ Film Club in the School of Cinematic Arts; Queers in Engineering, Science, and Technology (QuEST), a networking club for LGBTQ students studying a STEM field 
  • Political Groups: Price Queer Policy Caucus, a space for LGBTQ Sol Price School of Public Policy students and allies to network and discuss policies that directly impact the LGBTQ community. 
  • Professional Resources: OUTLaw, a networking club for LGBTQ students interested in pursuing Law; and Trojan Alliance, a pre-professional association aimed at bringing networking opportunities and resources to LGBTQ students at USC. 
  • Social Organizations: MedLambda: LGBTQIA+ Student Interest Group, a group that supports LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff in the health sciences through social events, activism, and programming; and Transgender Advocacy Group, a student-run organization for transgender USC students and their cisgender allies to mingle, discuss, and dismantle transphobia. 

For more information about the LGBTQ+ Student Center, programs, student organizations, and more, visit the LGBTQ+ Student Center website: and the Campus Organizations website for a full list of all of registered USC clubs and organizations: 


By Tasha Sandoval