USC’s rite of spring: More than 500 freshmen join the Trojan Family

USC’s rite of spring: More than 500 freshmen join the Trojan Family

Innovative methods help spring admits find their peer group and feel the embrace of the university before classes begin

January 06, 2017 Ron Mackovich-Rodriguez

“Spring Into SC!” is perhaps the most exuberant event of a busy welcome week that includes seminars, crash courses, tours and convocation for about 500 spring admits.

The USC Trojan Marching Band played Thursday evening at McCarthy Quad, where freshmen met and mingled before heading off to the men’s basketball game against Stanford at the Galen Center.

“We want to roll out the cardinal carpet for spring freshmen and transfers,” said Emily Sandoval, director for residential education. “We want them to know they’re part of the Trojan Family, whether they started in August or January.”

USC is among a handful of highly selective universities that offer guaranteed spring admission, but the list has grown in recent years and now includes Brandeis University, Cornell University and Middlebury College.

“Spring admission gives more high-achieving students access to a top education,” said Timothy Brunold, USC’s dean of admission. “Every year we find a group of exceptional students who are meant to be here, but we don’t have space in the fall. We have decided to hold a place for them at USC.”

Unlike most universities, USC doesn’t put students on a wait list. Once they’re accepted, spring freshmen are guaranteed January admittance and university housing.

“About the only real difference between our spring admits and their fall colleagues is their move-in date,” Brunold said. “We’ve been doing this for more than two decades.”

At USC, spring freshmen have similar demographic and academic profiles as fall admits, who have an acceptance rate of 16.6 percent and an average GPA of 3.75. The graduation rate for both groups is projected at 92 percent.

Support from the start

USC administrators have developed innovative methods to help spring admits find their peer group and feel the embrace of the Trojan Family right away, with spirit activities like the move-in day basketball game and invitations to Trojan Family Weekend in the fall.

A Facebook group helps spring admits from around the world get to know each other before they arrive on campus.

Jessica Frey, senior assistant director for the spring admission program, is devoted to spring student success.

“I help them assess their options,” Frey said.  “We want them to have the freedom to choose what they want. I help them plan coursework if they enroll elsewhere. The two most common options are enrolling at a community college or a study abroad program.”

The fall semester can be an opportunity to get some coursework out of the way or study abroad. Spring admits can also take general education courses at a four-year university as a non-degree seeking student.

“I took a full load of courses, including western civilization history, economics, sociology and English,” said Julianne Myers, whose family lives in Arizona. “Those will all transfer to USC as general education credits. It helped me save a lot of money my first semester because I was able to live at home.”

Emma Dessau spent the fall semester studying at Franklin University Switzerland, but she never felt out of touch with her chosen university.

“I think one of the things I’ve been most pleased with has been the communication,” Dessau said. “Everything from parking permits to general questions, to sorting out my second semester schedule. I felt taken care of and it felt personalized. That’s one of the reasons I chose USC. It’s a big school, and that isn’t something I was necessarily seeking, but it feels like a small school.”