Admits reflect on historic admissions cycle

Jaden Armond applied to USC later than most. When decision day came, she was pleasantly surprised that she ended up being accepted — especially when many of her peers were not.

“When decisions came out, I was in this group chat and everyone was waitlisted [or] denied,” said Armond, a high school senior from Louisiana. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go check my portal.’ Probably like everyone else was waitlisted or or denied, but when I saw the balloons and the congratulations, I was definitely like, ‘Oh my god.’” 

Armond was one of 8,032 first-year applicants — 9.9% of the total — admitted to the Class of 2027, after an admissions cycle that saw the debut of an early action phase, record-breaking application numbers and the first acceptance rate under 10% in the University’s history. 

Twenty-three percent of this year’s admitted applicants identified as first-generation students, compared to last year’s 20%. A third of admitted students are from racial or ethnic groups that are historically underrepresented in United States higher education, a ratio that Dean of Admission Timothy Brunold, in an interview with the Daily Trojan Monday, said has been gradually trending upward over the last few years. 

Armond applied to USC through QuestBridge, a nonprofit that helps low-income students apply to and afford top colleges in the U.S. Armond said being a person of color and low-income is very important to her life story. As an incoming English creative writing major, Armond made sure that her applications conveyed this story, and she recommends future applicants do the same. 

“When I did my essays, I talked a lot about where I grew up, how certain factors have influenced my life,” she said. “It wasn’t just more about making myself look good in terms of academics … It was more about telling my story, because your story is something that’s unique. You’re the only person who has your story.” 

(Courtesy Jaden Armond)

While Armond said she has other options for college — she was accepted to Stanford University, Williams College and Pomona College, among others — USC is, at the moment, her top choice. 

“It’s just more now come down to the financial aid,” she said. “Once I receive it, I’ll be really evaluating whether or not I’ll be attending.” 

Eighty three percent of those admitted have unweighted GPAs that fall between a 3.8 and a 4.0 on a 4.0 scale, Brunold wrote in a statement to the Daily Trojan Monday. Nearly half earned straight As throughout high school.

Stephanie Plascencia, a senior at La Mirada High School, in La Mirada, California, is among the 38% of admits who attended a California high school. 

“It’s honestly a little bit surreal,” said Plascencia, who plans to major in biological sciences. “I feel like I’ve put in all my effort, and it just feels like a huge relief.” 

(Courtesy Stephanie Plascencia)

Plascencia first applied to USC for early action  — along with about half of this year’s applicants — but was deferred before being accepted in the regular decision pool. USC is currently her top choice. As a plus, she may be with her friends.

“There was only three of us that got in from the entire class and I was one of them,” Plascencia said. “My other two friends also got in.”

Gabriel Harris, a high school senior from American Canyon, California, plans to major in architecture and specialize in landscape architecture after finishing his undergraduate degree. 

“I learned about architecture and USC because of my godfather,” he said, “I first started mainly in environment art and, when I found out about my passion for architecture, I looked at landscape architecture. I said, ‘This is basically the same thing,’ so that’s where my passion came from.” 

(Courtesy Gabriel Harris)

Harris said USC is his top choice and he plans to commit shortly. 

“I screamed when I read the [acceptance] message,” he said. “My sister came in worried something was wrong and I told her the news and she screamed as well, and so I feel great. I’m just grateful that I was chosen. I know there’s so many applicants and I’m just glad that my application stood out.”