Undergraduate Admission Blog

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February 28, 2019

(Way Back) in USC’s Transfer Process

Bruce loves to laugh at the way he was recently described by an 11-year-old.

“He knows a lot about everything, but it’s all useless information.”

She’s right about that first part–Bruce is a veritable fountain of knowledge. And as for the useless bit, anyone who has ever applied to transfer to USC or has reviewed a transfer application for USC has benefited from his expertise. As part of our “(Way Back) in My Day” series, I sat down with Bruce Grier (Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission) to talk about how the USC transfer process has changed throughout the years.

Bruce was himself a transfer student. After high school, he joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in the Pacific before going to Vietnam. When he returned home, he decided to give it the old college try and used his GI Bill funding to enroll at Pasadena City College. Unfortunately, he found that his military discipline didn’t exactly translate to his studies. He decided to leave school and worked as a truck driver, but had the epiphany at age 26 that the most effective way to maximize his earning potential was to return to college. After spending a couple more years at PCC, he transferred to USC, earned a degree in political science, and has been working in our undergraduate admission office ever since!

So how have things changed since Bruce filled out his (paper) transfer application? Perhaps the biggest change is that our transfer process used to be a simple matter of qualification. Did you have the minimum GPA (which was a 2.5 when Bruce applied)? Did you meet the writing requirement? You were in! As USC became more competitive, the minimum GPA kept rising; eventually, we changed our process from one of qualification to selection and removed the GPA requirement (though the average GPA remains a useful benchmark). As those of you who are currently applying to transfer to USC are no doubt aware, we no longer guarantee admission for any applicants and have begun to more heavily consider factors like full-time status, writing ability, etc. as we select a portion of the many qualified applicants for admission. Surprisingly, an unexpected benefit of getting rid of the GPA requirement is that we were now able to consider and admit students who had a low GPA when they started college but have since earned strong grades. What can we say? USC (and especially Bruce) loves an underdog story!

Bruce also saw the addition of the math requirement to the transfer process (as a way of ensuring that students who started at USC would be able to graduate) and a major shift in the GE program. For many decades, each academic unit had their own general education requirements that followed no guiding principles or patterns. This made it nearly impossible for students to double major and, if you wanted to transfer, you had to be certain of your future degree so that you could appropriately prepare. The standardization to the GE program has been very much appreciated by our transfer students. The breadth of the core literacies has provided quite a bit of flexibility as applicants prepare for USC and once they become Trojans.

Perhaps the biggest change in USC transfer admissions is how the spread of internet access and literacy has allowed transfers to utilize the resources they need. While we always recommend our on-campus transfer presentations and events, any student (anywhere in the world) can find what they need to prepare to transfer by navigating our online resources. The power is in your hands and you, like Bruce, can know a lot about everything (or at least about transferring to USC)!


  1. Ella says:

    Hi! I loved reading this story as it was very insightful and interesting concerning the ways USC transfer admission has evolved over the years.

    I am a current transfer applicant for the Fall 2019 academic year. Although I have a relatively low gpa 3.22, for Global Studies I have not let up hope as I have a lot to bring to the table as apart of the USC student body.

    I am wondering if the admissions process is different for Global Studies program and more specifically what admissions is looking for in an applicant. Great read. Fight on!

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