Everything Families Need to Know About University of Southern California (USC) Admissions (Tips!)

A photo spotlighting college advisors South Florida at International College Counselors shares University of Southern California (USC) Admissions tips.

Debra Barnett, a Director of College Advising at International College Counselors and a proud alumna of the University of Southern California, is the writer of this week’s blog. When it comes to USC admissions tips, she’s the expert.

“Remember, there’s a person on the other end of your application; we’re just trying to get to know you.”—Becky Chassin, Assistant Dean of Admission, USC

TheUniversity of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, is ranked among the top 30 National Universities by U.S. News and World Report. However, to the Trojans who attend, it is that and much more. USC’s renowned Film, Architecture, and Business Schools, top-ranked Game Development program, spirited Division 1 athletics program, and closely accessible diverse cultural opportunities are just some of the things that led more than 80,000 high school seniors to apply to USC last fall.

Given its 10% admissions rate, it’s important as an applicant to know what USC is seeking. If you’ve attended an information session for a highly selective university, you’ve likely heard it before: “We use a holistic application review process.” This means the admissions committee considers everything applicants submit when they apply. At the University of Southern California, admissions officers pay close attention to each applicant’s personal narrative, background, and circumstances, recognizing that every applicant is unique.

To be a competitive applicant at USC, applicants should have stellar academicsand personal characteristics. Applicants should also have ambitious intellectual pursuits, enjoy examining important issues from a global perspective, and be willing to venture outside their comfort zone. Additionally, successful applicants show leadership in high school, are interested in other peoples and cultures, and work to serve others in their community. Applicants to USC should work to paint the admissions committee a picture of themselves that includes how they might contribute to the community, tradition, and spirit that make USC the dynamic place it is.

Additional things to know about USC + USC admissions tips

USC is a private university; it is not affiliated with the University of California (“UC System”). This means that there is no “in-state” tuition for students from California; it also means students apply via the Common Application, not the University of California application.

USC is “test-optional,” meaning applicants are not required to submit an SAT or ACT score. For applicants who do submit test scores, USC super-scores results (records the highest reported Critical Reading and Math scores) even if each is achieved on a different exam date. Applicants will not be at a disadvantage if they choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores; admissions readers will identify student potential using what IS included in the student’s application.

USC has an Early Action application option. This means students may apply early (November 1 deadline) and receive their admissions decision earlier than Regular Decision applicants. Typically 20-25% of the class is admitted via Early Action. Because Early Action is “nonbinding” (meaning you are not committed to attending if you are admitted), International College Counselors recommends that to be most competitive, students complete their SAT/ACT testing early and apply under Early Action.

At USC, Early Action applicants are also considered for Merit Scholarships (more below). Students not admitted in the Early Action round are deferred (“postponed”) to the Regular Decision round, where their applications will be reviewed again for another chance at admission.

NOTE: Some majors at USC are not eligible for the Early Action application cycle. These include schools that have portfolio or audition requirements. Additionally, applicants to the World Bachelor in Business program must apply Early Action. 

To be considered for a USC Merit Scholarship, students must apply for admission in the Early Action admissions cycle, either by November 1 or December 1, depending on their intended major. No additional application is required for USC’s Merit Scholarships; applicants will be automatically considered. Generally, merit scholarships are reserved for students with special qualifications, such as academic, athletic, or artistic talent. Awards are also available for students who are interested in particular fields of study, are members of underrepresented groups, or live in certain areas of the country.

USC does not conduct admission interviews. However, prospective students can contact their USC admission counselor if they have questions about the admission process. To learn more, applicants should visit USC’s Find Your Counselor page.

USC has different schools with additional supplemental requirements. Some schools require an audition or portfolio and have their own dates and deadlines. Applicants should be sure to obtain any required supplementary forms and fulfill all departmental admissions requirements by the deadline.

Debra Barnett has more than 20 years of experience assisting domestic and international students with the college planning and application process. As a graduate of the university, academics and athletics fan, and recent visitor, she knows the ins and the outs of the University of Southern California (all the USC admissions tips). “Fight On!”

For support applying to USC or with any part of your college planning or application process, contact us at International College Counselors or call 1-954-414-9986 for personalized assistance to navigate the complexities of the college admission process.

Join us on Wednesday, May 29 @ 7PM ET for the FREE webinar: Applying to Four-Year Universities in Florida

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/3dn7heca 

Even if you can’t make it to this webinar, register, and we’ll email you a link to the recording following the webinar.