USC should assimilate spring admits during fall

The start of the spring semester is an exciting one for most USC freshmen. After spending the fall acclimating to USC — and spending winter break in relative boredom at home — the first week of spring is a chance to catch up with friends and begin a new semester with some hard lessons learned.

But the new semester also brings a host of new students to our campus — spring admits. After spending the fall semester avoiding awkward questions from their high school friends, these students are forced to navigate a new environment without the support system that exists for freshmen arriving in August. Unlike their peers who were admitted in the fall, spring admits are often forced to find housing in off-campus apartments without the benefits of residential life. Their Welcome Week pales in comparison to the festivities organized during the start of the year. Even the experience of opening their admissions envelopes — one most Trojans remember fondly — is tinged with disappointment, already generating a sense of isolation from students admitted in the fall.

“[Spring admits] absolutely belong here, and we turned away over 40,000 other students in place of that student,” Director of Admission Kirk Brennan told the Daily Trojan. “I think spring students should be proud to be here, and should forget as soon as they can that they had to start a semester later.”

If this is the case, it begs the question: Why should they have to forget? Spring admits are clearly qualified to be considered Trojans by Brennan’s own admission and by evidence on campus. Our Undergraduate Student Government President is a spring admit, three senior editors of this publication are spring admits and many spring admits achieve great success both in the classroom and out of it.

Instead of forcing spring admits to find their way at USC mid-year, it’s crucial that the University make a more focused effort to get them on campus before spring starts. There should be a housing guarantee for every student with the impending opening of the Village.

The construction of the new Village should go a long way in easing the shortage and ensuring that spring admits are still a valued part of the USC community. It’s easy to forget about these several hundred students when administering the construction of a new structure with bed space for thousands more and geared toward an undergraduate student population of more than 18,000.

Moreover, encouraging spring admits to attend local institutions, such as Santa Monica College or Los Angeles City College, in the fall would allow them to find their way in university life. Part of this support comes from improved communication with students about local education options in the fall and from providing transportation to said colleges, if possible. USC shuttles already go to the University’s research facilities in Marina Del Rey — it could easily make a stop in Santa Monica as well.

If USC were to implement a more comprehensive plan to integrate spring admits in the fall, it wouldn’t be the first plan of its sort. UC Berkeley’s Fall Program for Freshmen allows freshmen admitted in the spring to live in university housing during the fall semester and take classes through UC Berkeley Extension. While a program such as USC Extension does not exist, the University could form similar partnerships with local community colleges and market the opportunity to spring admits as a way to live on campus while participating fully in the experience — including joining academic, professional or social organizations and attending fall football games.

Assimilation of spring admits into campus life needs to exceed the less-spirited welcome events and the lacking assistance currently found on campus. Integration into the University should start before their first steps into a USC classroom.

Daily  Trojan Spring 2016 Editorial Board