December 14, 2017
International Admission and the USC Global Experience
I have the great privilege of working with prospective international students. On any given day, I might be on the phone with a student from China, emailing with a parent from Turkey, or meeting with a family visiting campus from Saudi Arabia. It is the best part of my job and one of my favorite aspects of the University of Southern California.
Since August our international admission officers have visited hundreds of high schools around the world. Altogether we visited 24 countries on 4 continents, including China, where I spend the majority of my time recruiting future Trojans. Visiting high schools lets me see the school community first hand, and allows me to understand the nuances of the systems in which students are educated. Our international admission officers also gain a deep understanding of grading systems. All of this helps to bring more context to a student’s application.
I also love learning about culture, politics, and history when traveling for USC. Many people think of China as a monolithic society, but regional differences are striking. The cuisine shifts drastically – mala spicy hotpot in Chengdu, dimsum in Guangzhou, hong shao rou in Shanghai. Languages and dialects can change based on which side of a mountain you are visiting. Just like the United States, recruiting a regionally diverse student body in China adds so many different perspectives to campus. But an eager, excited attitude about studying in the United States is what ties our prospective students together.
After talking to hundreds of students this year, there are some common concerns about the application process. Students struggle with the writing components of the application. What is the perfect essay? What should I focus on when I have so much to tell? There is no perfect essay and you can’t possibly tell us everything within the word limits. My advice is to just be yourself. A genuine response is going to be your best approach when writing your essays. This is a very personal part of the application. We want to hear what you have to say, see your point of view, and get to know you better. This is your only chance to directly address the admission committee.
Students also worry about standardized tests. If I want to dampen the mood in a classroom, I only need to mention the SAT or ACT. But fear not – standardized tests are not the most important part of our admission process. Don’t forget about your schoolwork and your passions and hobbies. When you go to college and your freshman roommate asks you what you like to do with your free time, you don’t want to answer, “I like to study for the SAT.” Prepare for those examinations, but don’t let them take over your life.
Many students are concerned about life on campus. Moving to a new country to attend university is a major change. We provide you with vast resources from the moment of admission until graduation. The Office of International Services will help guide students with anything from visa regulations, opening a bank account, to housing options.
Even though technology brings us closer together, our cultures still influence who we are and how we interact with one another. A global university environment like USC exposes students to cross cultural awareness, prepares them to mitigate cultural differences, and inspires students to honor and respect the traditions of others. With over 11,000 international students calling our campus home, we care about having a vibrant international student body. USC believes it will best prepare our students for life in the 21st century. So feel comfortable bringing your traditions to Los Angeles and immersing yourself in our global city. Many others have done so before you and made their mark.
You are welcome and supported here at USC!
BY: Kevin Hostetler
Associate Director of Admission
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