It is widely known that USC offers spring semester admissions to students accepted into the university. Before coming to USC in January, these students began their college journey elsewehere and also make fantastic use of their time in place of a fall semester by working and traveling. They’ve declined prestigious admissions offers, including full rides to other institutions to come to this university. They’ve had to watch as their high-school classmates started the college adventure. They’ve explained for countless hours to countless people the enigma of their admissions situation. This process is not exclusive to USC nor is it contained to a small number of students. In fact, many of the brightest, most devoted, and most qualified students to ever come to USC started their formal classes just over two weeks ago. Almost every major is represented in the spring admission class, from history to business to astronautical engineering, just as it is reflected in the undergraduate body at large.
But being smart and committed, however, is just not enough. While it certainly is a privilege to attend this school, some members of our community routinely regard spring admission as lesser. Spring admits themselves often feel as if they are of an “other” sect. Despite the best efforts of the university, they have difficulty finding that school spirit found at the start of a fall. Spring admits don’t get football games, long sunny Los Angeles days or many peers to mingle with.
Many spring admits arrive at USC and discover that cliques have already formed. Additionally, academics can seem overwhelming, with large lectures full of unfamiliar faces. Despite what admissions brochures promise, being a spring admit has a stigma that is difficult to shake. I know this from personal experience.
It took almost a full semester at USC for me to feel fully part of the school and its culture. Today, I was surprised to learn that even USC staff members allow this mindset that to prevail. This afternoon, I had my foreign language class, a break from my heavy science load. Prior to class, I asked a peer about her experience at USC thus far, and I learned that she was having a difficult time finding her place. I assured her that it would come with time, as it had for me a year earlier. At the start of class, an Overseas Studies employee came and spoke about oppurtunities abroad; one of which was a program designed specifically for spring admits. I was shocked to hear him explain that USC has the process in place not to have a critical intellectual mass, but to boost its U.S. News ranking. “Spring admits typically have lower GPAs, but don’t tell them that,” the advisor said with a smile.
As humorous as it might have been to him, I was appalled. As valedictorian of my high school and a class of 2017 spring admit, it was personal. Not only was this a gross oversimplification of deciding who will come in the fall versus the spring, it had nothing to do with abroad studies. So, I spoke up and said, half joking, “That’s not true. I’ve met plenty of dumb fall admits.” Having heard me, the advisor offered a similarly joking half-apology.
Regardless of one’s intention, separative talk dampens spirits and discourages integration. Both fall and spring admits whom I’ve consulted agree: the statement, uttered by a representative of our university, is demeaning and unacceptable.
Simon Gottreich, Sophomore, biochemistry