Explore USC changes visit policy for minors

This semester’s Explore USC program will be affected by a policy change that prevents minors from staying alone on campus. (Shaylee Navarro/Daily Trojan)

Explore USC will no longer allow minors to stay with current students on campus. The program, which allows prospective students admitted early as scholarship candidates to visit campus for the selection process, will now require minors to stay with a parent or guardian overnight during the two-day event.

While scholarship candidates ages 18 and older will be able to stay with a host student during Explore USC, minors must stay with a family member or conduct their interview through a Skype call. The Office of the Provost instituted the policy last summer for all visiting high school-aged students.

“In order to comply with USC policy, Explore USC now requires that minors be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian,” wrote USC Admissions, the department that runs Explore USC, in a statement to the Daily Trojan. “This change affects few potential students, who do have the option of participating via Skype.”

Explore USC allows admitted students to encounter the campus with a current USC student and interview for scholarships if they’re admitted during the University’s early application period. This year, students interviewing for scholarships can attend one of five two-day sessions throughout February and March.

High school students in the Explore USC program who are unable to stay overnight can interview for scholarships through Skype or phone, according to the University statement. Skype interviews were offered in the past but students were encouraged to attend Explore USC in person.

Simmone Stearn, a senior at San Dieguito High School Academy in Encinitas, CA., will attend Explore USC for a scholarship interview as a prospective architecture student this week.

“[Staying overnight] would definitely give me a better idea of what the dorms are like and as a person who’s going to attend college, residency is a big part of it,” Stearn said. “I can’t say it would influence my choice … even if I didn’t stay in the dorms I think there are ways to find out what the dorms are like.”

According to USC’s policies website, minors under the age of 18 cannot be alone on campus or in USC facilities because the environment is not considered appropriate for minors. USC allows minors to stay overnight with friends or family if they have written permission from their guardians.

Freshman Isabelle Vu, who attended Explore USC, is currently hosting high schoolers for the program. She said Explore USC has had a decrease in students staying overnight following the change in policy.

Vu said staying overnight was one of the highlights of the program.

“When I came here last year, staying overnight was one of the quintessential memories that I have of USC and a huge role in why I came here,” Vu said. “It’s really different touring the school and actually staying overnight.”

Explore USC held its first session for students interviewing for scholarships last Thursday. High school students in Explore USC who are unable to stay overnight follow the same schedule as other students, but are required to leave at the end of the first day.

Tommy Nguyen, a freshman majoring in history and psychology, is also hosting scholarship interviewees for Explore USC this semester. Nguyen said he doesn’t think the new policy will affect students’ experience and college decision.

“You can argue that [if] there’s no overnight, the whole experience is ruined, but if you look at it from that perspective, what’s the point?” Nguyen said. “I was with these two greats kids that were really excited … and they didn’t sleep overnight. But we spent four hours in McCarthy, eating dinner in the Village, showing them around all the study lounges, and they loved it.”

Like Vu, Nguyen attended Explore USC as a high school student.

“I certainly don’t think the students are lacking or complaining about anything,” Nguyen said. “From every prospective student that I’ve met, they loved it. They loved this school, they loved seeing all of us, and it was all genuine experiences.”