Admissions more selective than ever


Based on this year’s admissions numbers, earning a spot at USC was harder this year than ever before.

Of the 35,730 applicants, 8,500 were admitted for the fall semester for a total acceptance rate of 23.8 percent, according to Tim Brunold, USC’s director of undergraduate admissions. Last year, 24.1 percent of applicants were admitted.

Based on its acceptance rate, Brunold said USC remains among the 40 most selective universities in the country and among the eight most selective schools in California.

“Getting into USC makes me proud of what I’ve done and everything I’ve accomplished,” said Vivian Yan, an admitted student from Orange County, Calif. “I know you can’t measure success by where someone’s gotten in, but it makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile.”

This year’s class is also slightly stronger than last year’s, with an average SAT score more than 20 points higher than last year’s.

“It’s very strong,” Brunold said. “There’s been an enormous increase in quality in both SAT scores and GPA. It’s at the highest it’s ever been.”

The quality of students can be seen not only in their GPAs and SAT scores but also in more qualitative factors, Brunold said.

“They have more rigorous coursework, more activities, [and] higher quality of writing on essays,” he said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say this year’s class is the strongest we’ve ever put together. The overall quality of the pool is what stands out in my mind.”

In addition to the 8,500 fall admits, about 1,000 students have also been admitted for the spring semester and are currently on a waitlist to see if they can start attending USC in the fall. These announcements will be made at the end of May.

Brunold said the school expects to enroll about 300 freshmen in the spring.

“I can’t believe I’m in,” said Allison Selick, a spring admit from New Jersey. “I’ve wanted this for a really long time. Everyone fits into a certain school, and I know USC is a dream school for a lot of people, so I just feel really fortunate.”

There was also an increase in ethnic diversity of admitted students.

About 20 percent of the freshman class identified themselves as African American, Latino, Native American or Pacific Islanders, Brunold said. Last year, this number was closer to 18.9 percent.

This year, USC also admitted more international students; 12 percent of the admitted students for the fall 2010 semester are international students, compared to about 10.5 percent last year.

Some statistics stayed about the same. About 47 percent of admits were male and the remainder were female for both the 2009 and 2010 fall semesters, Brunold said.

Additionally, about 10 percent of the admitted students both years were first-generation college-goers.

Brunold said about 20 percent of the admitted class received some kind of merit-based scholarship, ranging from the full trustee scholarship to scholarships granting a few thousand dollars per year.

Between 60 and 65 percent of the incoming class will receive need-based financial aid.

Overall, Brunold said, admissions was tougher this year than ever before.

“As the overall quality of students increases and admission decreases, we’re going to notice a lot more students are disappointed,” Brunold said.

The 8,500 admitted students have until May 1 to decide whether they will attend.

10 replies
  1. Marc
    Marc says:

    Improvements in admission standards under Sample have been singularly outstanding. No school in the country has been hotter. Now if we could just get the yield rate up.

    • USC Alumnus
      USC Alumnus says:

      Cal Alumnus-
      Thank you for the nice comment about USC. It is a true sign of class when one is able to respect the achievements of another. Schools like Cal and USC make the state of California the best choice for higher education in the country. Cheers to the Golden State!

  2. Sophomore*
    Sophomore* says:

    Master…
    Please keep your drivel off this board. I hope you don’t go to SC, because we pride ourselves on being race blind and you clearly are not.

    I think SC does a great job of balancing affirmative action with admitting quality applicants.

    I agree with the other Sophomore above that the transfer requirements are hilariously lax. How can we claim to be selective when we let in high school rejects that go to a community college for a semester and get an easy 4.0??

  3. master
    master says:

    They need to stop admitting minorites with poor grades and stop rejecting whites or even Asians who are superior.. End the discrimination.. However, having said that we wouldn’t like USC to be 60% Asian like certain UC schools.

    • Jon
      Jon says:

      What are you saying? It’s not okay to admit underrepresented minorities with lower grades than their white or Asian peers? But it’s also not okay to admit too many Asians who have higher grades than their white peers?

      Who are you? I have a hard time believing you’re associated with a university that prides itself in the work it does in the surrounding communities.

    • Senior
      Senior says:

      Good call Sophomore. I think USC should decrease its capacity in general, so to increase selectivity. Too many transfers presume admission to SC after getting rejected by Cal and UCLA. It’s obvious that public schools, with their much cheaper tuition, will get a lot more applicants than private schools, which leads to a more “stringent” admission process. Besides, SC is a private school, and private schools should not confer admissions so easily nor be too generous in financial aid packages; the dismal economy dictates.

      I think SC has already proved over and over again under Sample’s leadership, its stance on public service and outreach via JEP and other programs in which students interact with the immediate community. SC does not need to worry about its “private school snob” image, because it’s no longer.

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