Eleven percent of USC’s incoming class of 2015 is international students, a 1 percent increase from the class of 2014, making USC’s student body one of the most diverse in the country.
USC Dean of Admissions Timothy Brunold attributes the growing international student population to an increase in financial resources and the implementation of new recruiting practices.
“USC has always had international admissions officers,” Brunold said, “but in the past six to seven years we really started to hold more [SCend offs] and attend more college fairs overseas.”
USC has also made an effort in the last few years to station recruiters across the globe who are culturally sensitive to the country they are working in, Brunold said.
The focus of international recruitment efforts is currently in East Asia, but India is next. Brunold said USC is currently searching for a new officer of admissions to bridge the gap between America and India, one of the most populous countries in the world.
Despite an increase in resources, the international student recruitment process is largely the same as that for prospective American students.
“The fact that they are international students doesn’t affect the traditional recruitment process,” Brunold said. “The strategy abroad does not significantly change for international students compared to domestic students — they have the same needs.”
Just like any American high school, USC sends admission officers abroad to visit high schools, present in seminars and appear in college fairs. In China alone, USC admissions representatives visited more than 80 high schools during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Interviews, although not required, are conducted in person overseas except in situations where prospective international students are unable to travel to regional admissions representatives.
Brunold said modern methods of communication like Skype have been used to conduct interviews, but he contends that face-to-face interviews are more effective.
“Human involvement adds value to the process,” Brunold said.
Though the Internet has altered the way in which universities are able to reach out to prospective international students, many international students at USC, including Seokyoon Nam, a freshman majoring in philosophy, made their college decision based on recommendations from friends.
“The Internet did not play too much [of a] role in my application,” Nam said. “I decided to apply to USC because of some [of my] friends who were attending USC recommended it to me … and my research was done mostly through phone calls to my friends.”
One fundamental difference between international student admissions and domestic student admissions is that need-based aid is not available for international students.
“Applicants may get confused because, while USC is need-blind in the admissions process, international students must provide proof of financial support [when they apply],” Brunold said.
This is because for international students to attend school in the United States they are required to complete an I-20 form, which affirms that a student can financially support himself or herself for the upcoming academic year. If a student fails to meet the requirements of the I-20, he or she will not be permitted to enter the country.
Some merit-based scholarships are, however, available for international students.