Admissions at USC were cut in half for Spring 2020 following a decrease in fall enrollment. For more than 20 years, the University has welcomed an estimated 650 students into the spring enrollment program.
According to Dean of Admission Timothy Brunold, the University had lower Fall 2019 enrollment numbers than in previous years. The 2018-2019 school year saw about 3,400 new students enroll, while this year’s freshman class enrolled 3,100 new students.
According to Brunold, spring enrollment serves as the University’s waiting list by offering a group of students admission in January while being able to move some up to the fall semester if spots open up. The difference in new student enrollment over the past two years accounts for the decrease in spring enrollment.
“This wasn’t a policy or a decision anyone made,” Brunold said.
Spring enrollment numbers are responsive to fall enrollment and are not the result of any executive action. This year marks a departure from the previous year in fall enrollment, where Fall 2018 saw an overenrollment of students. As a result, spring enrollment numbers were pushed up, putting a strain on the University’s resources.
The increase in students created a deficit in campus housing in Spring 2019 and led the University to renovate freshman student lounges into temporary overflow housing for about 50 spring admits.
According to USC Housing Director Christopher Ponsiglione, the converted lounge spaces serve as part of the University’s backup housing plans should a similar overflow in enrollment occur. However, any changes to these spaces are temporary and meant to support yearly differences in enrollment.
“The lounge spaces used last spring were converted back to lounges for this past fall,” Ponsiglione said in an email.
According to Ponsiglione, no spring-admitted freshmen have been assigned to any converted lounge spaces this semester.
The University’s spring enrollment program offers a different experience, through a more personal Welcome Week and orientation sessions. The University offers suggestions for how spring-admitted students can spend their fall semesters earning college credits at community colleges or abroad.
According to Karina Aguirre, a spring-admitted freshman majoring in law, history and culture, the transition into USC for spring-admitted students has room for improvement.
“During the fall, there should be more encouragement from the University for spring admits to come to USC,” Aguirre said. “If you’re still being considered part of the Trojan Family, then there should be more encouragement throughout the entire year [to join the community].”
Aguirre said she believes spring-admitted students should take advantage of the fall Welcome Week events. Bringing spring-admitted students together with the rest of their class could help dispel any stigma surrounding spring enrollment, she said.
Some spring-admitted students hold strong sentiments about their place in the University. Aguirre said that explaining her position as a spring admit is tiring and often gets undesirable responses that suggest spring admits are different from other students.
“I never want to have to explain to anyone again that I am a spring admit,” Aguirre said.
The University recognizes that many students share Aguirre’s feelings about spring admissions. According to Brunold, students don’t intentionally apply to attend USC in January, but enrollment numbers fluctuate between fall and spring semesters due to students graduating early or late or going abroad.
These statistics motivated the University to adjust its admissions process and establish spring enrollment. The Office of Admission is clear about how the spring admissions process works, Brunold said.
“When we tell [spring-admitted students] about spring admission, you know, we were very careful about explaining what it is and helping them understand why we do it,” Brunold said.
Despite the University’s efforts to be open and honest about the spring enrollment program, some students feel that more can be done to increase transparency. Aguirre said she thinks the University should include spring-admitted students’ academic statistics in its fall admission profiles to better reflect the academic makeup of all incoming students.
“I think that if USC is going to continue with a spring admission program, they should be more transparent in how they’re using it,” Aguirre said.