Admitted students grieve missed milestones

Prospective students celebrate their acceptances on an admitted students day in front of the Physical Education Building in 2018. USC will hold admitted students days virtually this year because of the coronavirus. (Photo Courtesy of USC Office of Admission)

The prospect of receiving a red acceptance package with a certificate of admission is a moment many USC applicants look forward to after putting in sleepless nights of work for their acceptance. 

The Class of 2024 received admission decisions online Thursday but will miss out on many of the programs that help make college decisions easier, including in-person campus tours and events for admitted students. The University is now hosting these events virtually to give prospective students a glimpse of campus life.  

Chloe Tran, a senior at Temple City High School and the daughter of two USC alumni, had her heart set on USC since the age of 2. Her parents would take her to the University’s homecoming football games each year and where she dreamed of joining the student section. 

“I’ve been wanting to get into USC for a while now,” Tran said. “I was on FaceTime with a friend [when I got my decision], and I made them look first, and they’re like, ‘I can’t see it.’ So I looked, and I saw it, and I was in shock … I started crying.”

Tran, who plans to major in sociology, said she visited campus last September but wishes for the chance to explore it on her own before coming to campus in the fall. She added that she’s missing out on receiving the acceptance package. 

“I guess I am a little sad because to see it physically, I feel like to have it in hand is so much more real,” Tran said. “But I understand the reasoning behind it [because of] the virus.”

Ini Obong, a senior at Arizona State University Preparatory School, said she is not only missing out on a traditional senior year with prom and senior night but also on a normal freshman experience. 

“All that new college freshman stuff that I don’t really get to experience like everyone else did really sucks because it’s really only our class this has ever happened to,” Obong said. “No one really knows what’s going on, and it’s just really hectic. No one prepares for this, obviously, so I don’t know how to react.”     

Dean of Admission Timothy Brunold said that while the circumstances are not ideal, USC has moved admitted student sessions online and is trying to support prospective students through general information sessions, financial aid panels and student services panels with USC Housing and Residential Education. 

“Whether it’s virtual or in person, it’s all about meeting each other,” Brunold said. “It’s all about making sure that people have the information that they need, and we’re very much committed to that, so I’m optimistic about these sessions.”

Madeline Abiera, a senior at the Orange County School of the Arts, said her acceptance to the School of Cinematic Arts brightened the period of quarantine. Despite missing out on typical prospective student experiences, Abiera said she is excited to join USC.

“I’m trying my best to be understanding of the situation [because] I know it’s out of most people’s control,” Abiera said. “The only thing we can do is just be aware of ourselves and do everything we can to prevent this [pandemic] from getting worse.” 

Abiera said even with limited options, admitted students have started interacting with each other through social media to celebrate their acceptance to the University. 

“I’ve already started meeting a lot of other [admitted] students through Instagram and group chats on GroupMe, which is really cool,” Abiera said. “I’m starting to get to know some people before we even get to do these admitted students events, so we are finding our own ways to stay connected during this time.” 

Brunold said informational sessions will be held via Zoom and other virtual platforms at different times of day to accommodate international students’ varied time zones. He added that regional hangouts, aimed at bringing students from similar geographic areas together, would be held in addition to specific sessions aimed at first-generation, marginalized, spring-admitted and international students. 

“We know that students have been preparing for this next step in their educational journey for literally their entire lives to this point, and there’s really no reason why anyone should imagine that their studies would have to be interrupted,” Brunold said. “Regardless of what happens, USC is committed to do it doing the best that it can to continue to educate and support students.” 

First-year incoming students are usually expected to submit final transcripts before joining USC but have been granted an extension until the end of Fall 2020 with exams around the world getting postponed or canceled. While Advanced Placement exams will still be held online, international tests such as International Baccalaureate and A-Level tests have been canceled.  

While the University deadline to commit remains May 1, the frequently asked questions section on the admitted student website states that extensions would be considered on a case-by-case basis for extenuating circumstances.