Undergraduate Admission Blog

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June 22, 2017

Conferences: A True Underdog Story

Growing up, I remember my parents occasionally leaving home for a few days to attend professional conferences.  I didn’t understand back then where they were going or what they were doing (though I definitely knew I’d get some swag when they came back), but adulting means I now get to go to my own conferences and–let me tell you–they are worth the free tote bags!

Each June, the USC Office of Undergraduate Admission turns up in full force to the Western Association for College Admission Counseling conference (affectionately known as WACAC) .  In addition to networking with high school and college counselors and CRUSHING IT in the dodgeball tournament, my coworkers and I were able to attend a variety of informational sessions.  We are excited to apply what we learned to our work as admission counselors and thought you might enjoy hearing a bit about the topics covered.  Take a look at what we learned and, if you’d like to hear more about any of these subjects, let us know in the comments section!


Disclosing Disciplinary Actions

Some high schools have a policy to report disciplinary issues while others don’t, but the Common Application requires you as a student to report any transgressions that may have occurred in your high school career.  Colleges aren’t interested in punishing you (your school, and likely your parents, already did that), but they do need to understand what happened and what you learned from the experience.  If you need help writing about an issue in your past, your school counselor can be an excellent resource!  We know that part of growing up is making mistakes, but don’t make the mistake of lying (by omission or otherwise) on your application. As they say, “the truth will out”—better for you to be upfront.


Standard Principles and Guiding Practices (SPGP)

WACAC is a regional affiliate of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).  Many colleges are members of NACAC and, as such, must follow a list of guidelines called the SPGP…Those may have been the two most boring sentences I’ve ever written, but here’s what’s important for you to know: the SPGP is a living document that is revisited every year to make sure that students are protected and able to have a fair college process.  It dictates how early college application deadlines are allowed to be, whether certain types of admission can be binding, and how colleges can contact potential transfer students.  Definitely not light reading, but if you ever wonder who watches the Watchmen, it’s nice to know that NACAC’s eyes are open!


Working with Military Veterans

Figuring out the best way to use your GI Bill education benefits can be confusing, so make sure to research all of your options!  Because only a certain period of time will be covered, it’s important to consider your long term plans.  Do you want to earn your Bachelor’s Degree after attending community college?  You will likely want to hold off in activating your benefits until you start at a four year institution in order to maximize your funds.  In addition to tuition benefits, many colleges offer a variety of academic and social services to veterans. Take a look at what programs are out there to help facilitate your transition to college.


The SAT vs. the ACT

Standardized testing is always an interesting topic to counselors, students, and parents alike…just sit down at any holiday meal and someone is likely to bring it up!  The dust has finally begun to settle from the first round of the new SAT, and one thing has remained clear—neither the SAT nor ACT is “best.”  Different students perform better on different tests, so take whichever makes the most sense for you!  This isn’t just a platitude (the data is actually in), so it’s time to stop worrying about the changes and focus on brushing up your skills so that you can perform your best!


The Effects of Gentrification

Did you know that 80% of universities in the state of California are located in the counties with the highest cost of living?  (I didn’t!)  The cost of attending a college doesn’t only include tuition, and scholarships often don’t cover additional costs like room and board.  As you research colleges, use the net price calculators to see how housing costs might affect your final bill.  If you won’t be living in campus housing all four years, take a look at average rent in the area.  You want to make sure you have the full financial picture before committing to a school.


The sessions at the conference covered so many topics and there simply isn’t time to lay them all out in this blog post.  My hope, however, is that you’ve learned a little and caught a glimpse of the passion college counselors and admission representatives have for building their skills and knowledge in order to help students like you. Also, I want to reiterate that USC admission counselors are AMAZING at dodgeball.

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