Patch Blog: College Advising—USC Admissions 2012

USC continues to amaze its applicants.

While I am not an insider to admissions at University of Southern California, Joyce* and I were on campus for a college conference a few weeks before the admissions letters went out. 

Excitement was in the air, but the numbers while meeting with USC admissions surprised us. The word was that they had received a 30% increase in their usual applications this year because they had decided to use the Common Application for the 2012 applications.  While going to the Common App did not change the wonderful, creative questions that had been part of the charm of their in-house application, it did make applying much easier.

In fact, the Common App made such a difference, that USC’s applications shot up to nearly 46,000 applications for fewer than 3,000 spots.  For those students out there who might have been denied admission, these are numbers to console yourself with.  Students who were admitted for the fall of 2012 were of a very rare type.  The standard letter from admissions indicates that they had straight-As and nearly perfect SAT scores.  Other factors also came into play because, as with any school, having a balanced class is an important part of the process.  “Diversity” is the term that defines each student as part of that balance.  Make yourself interesting and the world will love you, even if you weren’t accepted to USC!

Now let’s take a look at “the letter” that USC sent out.  There were several versions and it is important to note which one you received.  If, near the bottom of the letter, you are offered admission later as a transfer student, break out the bubbly. You weren’t rejected after all.  USC has had a program of deferred admissions for several years.  This is the way they handle the numbers of fabulous applicants who really want to attend.  The key here is to read the letter and follow the directions.  If you are determined to attend USC, they will work with you on a path to transfer in!

This is a tough time for anyone connected with USC admissions.  They don’t even know what is going to happen next with their admitted students.  If you were rejected and didn’t get the encouraging note at the end of your letter, choose another school from your list and be happy.  If you are determined to attend USC, consider reapplying next year.

If you received the letter with encouragement at the bottom, you still need to accept one of your other schools, but have hope.  If you follow the guidance of the USC process, and after attending your second choice school still want to attend USC, you will be able to!  That is good news, after all, isn’t it?

All the best from Patti and Joyce* at PerfectFitCollege.Net

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Ronna Mandel April 07, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I am curious if the varied versions of "the letter" are also common in other schools and if so, can you please weigh in on what you know about this practice? I thought a rejection letter was just that, a fairly straightforward decline. Thanks for this terrific article.
Patti Brugman April 10, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Dear Ronna: Thanks for the excellent question. USC's letter is unique to USC. While all schools would like to admit every wonderful student and alum legacy, USC's position is made worse because of their relatively small freshman class and enormously large pool of fabulous candidates. They came up with this tiered admission plan (which a few schools also use) to help the most determined student find a path to admission. As for any letter from any school you might have received, my advice is to read it top to bottom with great care. Often the biggest encouragement or help is near the bottom. (Recently, we had a client who stopped reading before the end on a financial aid offer and missed the most important part of the message.) Still, the rule of thumb is that if it's a short letter, it's brief for a reason. If you've been declined without any offers of deferred admission, or "come see us," don't appeal the decision. Appeals take a lot of energy, exhaust the student, and almost certainly end in another "no." Instead, say "yes" to Choice B and, if you must, reapply as a transfer to USC next year. Note: Students without any acceptable choices might consider seeing us for "vacancies" that appear at many schools in May after all offers have been accepted.


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