Undergraduate Admission Blog

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December 13, 2013

Mythbusters: From the Source!


          We know that there is a TON of information… err… rumors floating around on the school yard, on Facebook, and on those college message board sites, and we are here to help you get the factual information you are looking for. In this post, we hope to debunk some of those common myths about USC’s application procedure, and help you gain a better insight into how our process really works.

Myth #1: It is easier to get in if you apply to a certain major.

          We have said it before and we will say it again: apply to what is truly your first choice major, and don’t try to “game” the system. We will always consider students for their first choice major, their second choice major, and ultimately as undecided before they are released from the process.

          While it is true that applying to certain majors means we will pay closer attention to certain things, i.e. your math and science preparation if you are applying to one of our engineering majors, we will always consider students equally for both their first and second choice majors.

          There are cases where students are admitted to their second choice or as undecided. We do have an internal transfer process if you are admitted to USC and wish to switch to another major later.

Myth #2: Visiting campus, writing letters, and having an admission interview will help my chances of admission.

          False. We do not track what is referred to in the admission world as “demonstrated interest,” so don’t worry if you are applying from half way around the world and can’t make a visit to campus. We simply do not have the capacity to interview all interested students, meaning that the majority of students who apply will not have the chance to interview. Don’t worry. We encourage you to use the “Additional Information” section of the Common Application to talk about anything you would have discussed in an interview.

Myth #3: If I got a bad grade in a class, I shouldn’t bring it up in my application.

          Wrong! The first place admission counselors go when they notice a downward trend in grades or an individual lower grade is the “Additional Information” section of the Common Application. This is your opportunity to explain the context surrounding any lower grade you may have received.

Myth #4: The more letters of recommendation I have, the better my chances of admission.

          Incorrect. For most majors, we only require one letter of recommendation from an academic source, which means that we really, truly only need to see one letter. If we thought this would not suffice, we would require more than one. However, we do know that sometimes, applicants like to submit an additional letter from a non-academic source, i.e. coach, community service organizer, etc., and this is perfectly acceptable. It is really about the quality of the letter over the number of letters you submit.

Myth #5: Send your Admission Counselor a gift—it will help your chances!

          Hmm, we wish. But sadly, this is a myth. If you send us a (non-edible) gift, we will have to send it back. Bribery won’t work in this case.

Myth #6: I shouldn’t bother applying if no one in my family went to USC.

          While it is true that the Trojan Family is an extremely important aspect at USC, we evaluate all applicants on their own merits. We are made up of about 20% legacy students, and while we certain love to accept legacy students, the fact that your parent, grandparent, or sibling went to USC is one of many factors we consider when reviewing a student’s application.

          So there you have it. Six common myths that we have now (hopefully) shed some light on. Please remember to always contact USC directly should you have any questions about the application process. Good luck!

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