The Expectations vs. Realities of Being Admitted to the Spring

So you’ve been admitted to USC, but you don’t start until the spring semester. We know those of you who were admitted to the spring must have a lot of questions, maybe even some concerns, so we hope this blog provides you with a more realistic view of what it means to start at USC in January.  

“No matter what you choose to do during the fall, coming to USC in the spring allows you to try something out of the ordinary, giving you truly valuable perspectives and unique life experiences that you carry with you throughout your college journey.” – Abby Jarvis, Class of 2022 

We asked two current USC students what their expectations were starting at USC in the spring, versus what actually happened when they got to campus. Abby Jarvis is in her senior year, double majoring in Linguistics and Spanish. Abby spent the fall semester of her freshman year working two jobs to save up for college. Yara Akiel is in her sophomore year, majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Psychology. Yara spent the fall semester of her freshman year attending community college, taking transferable coursework. 

Well, let’s get into it!

Choosing What to Do in the Fall 

Expectation: Everyone at USC will have already begun to do big and incredible things during the fall semester, while I will be forced to fall behind and be stuck at home. 

Reality: “The six months or so that I had after I graduated high school gave me a much-needed mental break, extra time home with my family, and I was also able to save some money for college by working part-time jobs. I promise you, that fall semester goes by super fast! I am unbelievably grateful for that break from the classroom and the opportunity to get a head start on building my resume and earning some money. No matter what you choose to do during the fall, whether that be studying abroad, taking classes at community college, or just staying home with your family, coming to USC in the spring allows you the opportunity to try something out of the ordinary from a unique vantage point, giving you truly valuable perspectives and unique life experiences that you carry with you throughout your college journey.” – Abby Jarvis 

Making Friends 

Expectation: Everyone will already have friends. 

Reality: “Entering USC, I was greeted by the welcoming nature of the school. It did not feel cliquey at all, but rather, people were social and open to meeting others! In USC Housing, I became friends with my roommates and others on my floor through events my RA hosted. I met friends in my classes, which made for great study-buddies as well! Starting or joining study groups with others helped me make friends. Also, I found friends who shared similar interests to me, academic and recreational, through clubs at the involvement fair that happens once a semester. There will always be people happy to make friends, regardless of the year that you join USC.” – Yara Akiel  

Orientation Process / Actually Arriving at USC 

Expectation: I would be dropped into the middle of the USC campus with no guidance as to where to go or what to do. 

Reality: “During your orientation, you will not only have the opportunity to plan out your entire four-year course plan with your academic advisor, but you will also have the chance to meet other spring admits and explore LA during Welcome Week. That first week on campus, USC always plans fun excursions into LA to allow spring admits to get a better sense of what it’s like living in Los Angeles. On these trips, you will be introduced to so many other incredible spring admits who share similar stories to yours and who each bring a new and unique perspective to USC. This allows you to make some friends first thing, and sets you up for a truly fluid transition into USC.” – Abby Jarvis 

Getting Involved 

Expectation: (1) Clubs would be difficult to join. (2) Like high school, I would have to be involved in 4+ clubs to be a part of the social scene of USC. 

Reality: (1) “USC has 1000+ different clubs and orgs you can join! Whether you want to join a music group, an intramural sport, an art club, musical theater performances, or even random clubs like our Bagel Appreciation or Napping clubs, there are so many communities that openly welcome any and all members! You can check out some of these incredible clubs and meet current members at our Involvement Fairs, which happen at the beginning of each semester.  

(2) In college, you generally commit to fewer extracurriculars than you do in high school. In high school, I was involved in tons of after school clubs, but now in college, I really only participate in one student org. The rest of my time is dedicated to classes, work, and research on campus. For me, this mental shift and different time allocation was super freeing, and I realized my first semester that college is the first time you have the opportunity to make your schedule look exactly the way you want.” – Abby Jarvis 

Picking Classes 

Expectation: I won’t know how to pick the right classes for my major. 

Reality: “Although I was very overwhelmed with the idea of being completely free to choose my own classes for the first time, my advisor helped me a lot in figuring it all out! During our first meeting, he showed me the general course guide to my major and helped me outline a 3 ½ year course plan that ensures I have all the credits necessary for my major and as a pre-medical student. Also, advisors must have a mandatory meeting with their students once a semester in order to go over their intended course plan for the next semester. I use this meeting to figure out what classes I should be taking, and my advisor clears up any confusion I have.” – Yara Akiel 

Finding the Right Social Scene for YOU 

Expectation: Everyone at USC is involved in Greek Life, so if I didn’t join, I wouldn’t find a lasting community. 

Reality: “Only about 20% of students are involved in Greek Life, so you definitely don’t need to be a part of a sorority or fraternity to make friends on campus. I personally am not involved in Greek Life, and I’ve found so many incredible friends and communities that have made my college experience so wonderful. I met my friends mostly by joining certain clubs or meeting them in classes, so I would recommend getting involved as soon as you can and by participating in the spring Involvement Fair. For me, it was super nerve wracking having to put myself out there and introduce myself to people I had never met before, but I promise you, it’s always worth it.” – Abby Jarvis 

Graduating in 4 Years 

Expectation: I can’t graduate at the same time as my class as a pre-med student. There is no way I can graduate in 4 years if I come to USC a semester late. 

Reality: “Before starting at USC, I took community college classes in the fall to get some credits. Once I started in the spring, I had no issues with creating a schedule that made sure I graduate at the same time as all my peers. My advisor helped me figure out an outlined course schedule of my time at USC that ensures I will take the classes I need to graduate on time. I even had enough room to add a minor on top of my major and pre-med classes, so my fear of not graduating on time was quickly washed away.” – Yara Akiel 

“During that orientation meeting with my advisor, we discovered that I had quite a bit of extra room in my schedule, so she recommended that I declare another major. Thanks to that advice, this semester, I’m graduating with a double major in Linguistics and Spanish. These degrees not only fit perfectly into my four-year plan, but throughout the years, I also was able to take fun, extracurricular classes in addition to the classes required for my major without having to complete extra summer courses.” – Abby Jarvis 

If you made it this far, I’m hoping you’ve gathered that you’ll be supported on USC’s campus. As a Trojan myself, and former spring admit too, I know this is a scary process that is extremely overwhelming, but I hope you’re able to embrace the excitement of it all and enjoy the fall in anticipation of getting to campus in the spring.  

As a Spring admit, here are the next steps to take before arriving to campus!  

Good Luck and Fight On! 

Written by: 

Natasha Hunter, Assistant Director – USC Office of Undergraduate Admission