USC should reconsider its ties with feeder high schools

In terms of diversity, USC’s incoming Class of 2023 hit many marks. According to USC News, 27% of incoming freshmen come from traditionally underrepresented groups. In addition, females make up 55% of the incoming class. Despite these developments, the diversity and equity of admissions can always be improved upon, and one of the ways in which USC can do so is by reexamining the culture of feeder schools.

A feeder high school is a school from which an exceptionally high number of students are accepted into a given university. USC’s top feeder high schools this year were Foshay Learning Center, Canyon Crest Academy, Loyola High School, Arcadia High School and La Cañada High School, all based in Southern California. 

Students from these schools make up around 3% of incoming freshmen, which, to put it into perspective, is half the percentage of incoming Black students. Though it makes sense that a school that is close both geographically and professionally with USC — Foshay, whose demographics include 82% Latinx students and 17% Black students has a college preparation program that was created in direct partnership with the University — would have a higher matriculation rate to the University, feeder schools may be limiting the diversity of the incoming freshman population.

La Cañada, Canyon Crest and Loyola all have fairly typical racial breakdowns, with white students making up around half of the student body. This parallels USC’s own student population, where white students also make up the largest race group at 32%. 

At Foshay, white students make up only 0.32% of the total student body, while underrepresented groups, including Latinx students at 83.7% and Black students at 15.11%, make up the remaining majority. Arcadia also sets itself apart, with Asian students making up the majority at 65.2% while white students are at 13.4% and other underrepresented groups, such as Black students are at 2.3% and Latinx students at 14.1%, fall behind comparatively. These two schools show how feeder schools can be used to expand the diversity of the University rather than curtail it.

Because most feeder schools emerge in primarily affluent communities, students from middle- and lower-class communities may also not have as much representation. For example, La Cañada Flintridge, where La Cañada High School is, placed 64th on Bloomberg’s 2017 list of most affluent cities in the United States.

In addition, while four of the five top feeder schools to USC are public schools, many of the feeder schools to top institutions such as Harvard University are private. This further widens the gap between lower- or middle-class students and upper-class students in terms of access to a quality college-preparatory education.

Feeder schools often provide the advantage of having teachers, administrators and alumni who are well-equipped with the information and resources needed to send their students to competitive colleges. The fact that they are able to send a high number of students to top colleges consistently each year means that they have learned the game of college admissions and have become seasoned players.

Not only do feeder schools give students an advantage when applying to elite colleges, they also give students a greater opportunity to succeed once accepted. 

USC is taking clear strides to welcome an increasingly diverse incoming freshman class each year, and this is evident in the makeup of the Class of 2023. 

The University cannot abolish feeder schools, nor can it ignore the academic excellence that students from its top feeder schools display. However, to keep diversity on an upturn, USC should consider the advantages that these students are given over other students in the admission process.