As USC continues its ascent in the world of higher education, more students are competing for the same number of coveted spots. This year’s admission rate, 17.8 percent, is the lowest in USC’s 134-year history.
In the past several years, freshman admission has become far more selective. Last year, USC admitted 19.7 percent of applicants, the lowest at that time. Timothy Brunold, USC’s dean of admission, called the class of 2018 the most accomplished group of first-year students in university history.
“Our admission committee enjoyed getting to know the largest, most interesting group of students it has ever had the privilege of reading,” Brunold said in a press release. “USC’s distinctive academic programs, incredible diversity, vibrant campus life, global perspective and location in the heart of Los Angeles make it a very attractive option for the best and brightest students, not just from across the U.S., but from around the world.”
This fall, USC received more than 51,800 applications from high school seniors competing for an estimated 2,750 places in this fall’s entering class. The university admitted 9,225 students hailing from all 50 U.S. states and 80 other countries.
This year, 26 percent of incoming freshman will study in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The Marshall School of Business and USC’s arts schools (Architecture, Cinematic Arts, Dramatic Arts, Roski School of Fine Arts and Thornton School of Music) will host 21 and 14 percent of the incoming freshman, respectively.
Several incoming freshmen echoed Brunold’s statements, citing USC’s variety of strengths as their reason for enrolling. Joy Ofodu, an incoming freshman majoring in communication, said that USC offers a comprehensive experience for students.
“Prospective students and families are quickly realizing that USC is the total package: career preparation, a thriving social scene, excellent athletics, incredible faculty, gorgeous campus, good food and amazing alumni networking,” Ofodu said. “There are now Trojans planted in every area of the world, and all of them are proudly talking up the university.”
Exposure from college ranking websites such as US News and World Report might play a part in drawing more applicants, along with other extensive recruiting measures.
“I believe [USC] has good marketing strategies that highlight the academics, sports, Trojan family and other opportunities,” said Natalie MacKraz, an incoming freshman majoring in computer science. “The explanations of the advantages of the Trojan family are especially appealing.”
This year, the admissions committee organized more than 50 on- and off-campus events such as SCend Offs, receptions for incoming students and families. These human connections are what resonated with Zachary Guo, an incoming freshman majoring in computer science (games), when he was considering which college to attend.
“The most effective recruiting tactic for me was staying with a current student at Explore USC,” Guo said. “Being able to ask [my host] all the questions related to my major and life at USC.”
This year’s group of incoming students is also more ethnically diverse than in years past. Overall, 21 percent of the class of 2018 includes students from under represented minority populations, and 13 percent of students will be the first in their family to attend college. According to an annual report released by the Institute of International Education, USC has enrolled more international students than any other American college or university.
John Lazzeroni Jr., an incoming freshman double majoring in electrical engineering and choral music, thinks USC’s diverse student body is one of the university’s biggest assets.
“Everyone comes from a different place and the cultural diversity is outstanding,” said Lazzeroni, who is attending on an NROTC scholarship. “USC has a phenomenal reputation internationally, and I see people ‘fighting on’ everywhere. Nationally it is highly esteemed in many programs, especially the Thornton School of Music, and locally I get a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ when I say I am going.”