Undergraduate Admission Blog

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November 23, 2015

Mythbuster: I have a high GPA and test score so I’m definitely getting into USC



The Myth: The rest of the application doesn’t matter if I have a high GPA and test score.

The Verdict: Nope.

“It’s all about the numbers” seems to be something I unfortunately hear quite a bit when folks talk about college admission. It makes me sad because that is completely false when talking about the admission process at USC. Students, counselors and parents tend to get very anxious about GPAs and test scores.

GPAs and test scores are important, but they aren’t the only deciding factor in a student’s admission decision. A student applying to USC will never be automatically admitted nor denied based solely on GPA and test scores.

We are looking to get to know a student the best we possibly can through the admission process. GPAs and test scores help us determine how well you are doing academically, but we also want to get to know you beyond that. We want to learn about how you spend your time outside of the classroom. We are interested in getting to know your personality and the life experiences you may have had up until this point. We want to learn why you are interested in going to college at USC. We want to learn from your teachers or counselors their perspective on who you are as a student and human being. We can’t get all that information from just a GPA and a test score.

This is why we don’t have a cutoff for GPAs and test scores. We want to make sure you have the academic preparation to be successful at USC, but that can be determined in a lot of ways. We analyze your transcript while we calculate your GPA. What type of classes is the student taking? Is the student challenging herself in the context of what is available at her school? How does this relate to her standardized testing? There isn’t a magic GPA and test score combination to determine all this.

Admission to USC is competitive. They are many, many qualified students who are applying to USC. We don’t have spots for all of them in our incoming class. We use qualitative components such as activity summaries, essays, and letters of recommendations to make distinctions among our many excellent candidates.

If we wanted, we could just take the highest GPAs and test scores and admit those students. If we did that, we would admit a very different class than the one we just enrolled. I also wouldn’t have a job because a computer could do that. Our admission process is a human one, and we are looking to bring a well-rounded class to USC. We aim to do this by using your entire application to learn as much as we can about you.

A high GPA and test score is not a golden ticket to admission at USC. We go beyond the numbers, and we hope you do too in your application.


Until next time,

J. Frey


  1. Trenton says:

    This applies to transfer applicant too right?

  2. Gabriel Molina says:

    What if I am on the other side of the scale and I am interested in applying to USC next year? I have good extracurriculars and a good resume, but my GPA isn’t as high as the average GPA of the fall admits in the 2015-2016 Freshman Profile.

    • Jessica Frey says:

      Hi Gabriel,

      A GPA is just one of many components of the application. We want to see that students can succeed in the classroom, and we are also interested in learning about what you’ve done beyond your school work. Do the best you can in your classes, and be sure to fill out a thorough and thoughtful application when the time comes.


  3. alex says:

    hi, i’m from malaysia and want to join USC. what test do i need to take in order to get in? i just gradutaed high school and im interested in doig sport medicine.

  4. alexander says:


    I guess this kind of applies the forum, the one I wanted to comment on wasn’t accepting anymore comments. However I am a 19 year old entrepreneur that is opening my first business in a little under a month. I have been considering transferring to USC once I am done with CC units. My grades are on the upward trend and I anticipate to transfer with a 3.6. Only problem is I may be a year late in transferring compared to most. How badly will it affect me that in the first two years of college I wasn’t able to take a full load due to getting my business started? Also I retook one class will these factors be a major determinate for not getting in?

    • Hillary Higgins says:

      In the transfer process, we look for success in full-time academic coursework. It’s difficult to estimate your “chances” without seeing your application. You can always contact your admission counselor if you would like to find out more specific information about the transfer process.

  5. rais says:

    can I apply here for fall 2016 by 1st April? will I be evaluated properly or rejected firstly?


    • Hillary Higgins says:

      Our deadline to apply as a first-year applicant was January 15th. If you are seeking admission as a transfer student, you can contact your territory manager for more information.

  6. Gwyneth Hutchinson says:


    I know USC doesn’t really track demonstrated interest, but I visited the campus back in November of 2015. I didn’t have time to interview while I was there because I had to catch a plane home. Will the fact that I didn’t interview have a negative effect on my application?

    Sorry, I know it’s a little late in the game to be asking this, but I’ve been worrying about it! Thank you!


    Gwyneth Hutchinson

  7. nadia says:

    if I apply on Feb 1, when will I know if i’ve gotten accepted or not? Also do you guys also look at spring grades before making a decision?

    • Hillary Higgins says:

      Hi Nadia, We will get back to all transfer applicants by June 1st with either a decision or a request for spring grades. So for students who we need more information from, we will ask for spring grades.

  8. Akshana says:

    Does USC allow score choice, or choosing which SAT reasoning and subject test scores to send in?

    • Hillary Higgins says:

      Akshana, We do allow score choice. However, we recommend just sending all your scores as it’s less costly and we will only look at the highest score.

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