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.