Cal to Haas has a 60% rate of admit and CC to Haas has a 26% rate of admittance for all eligible students. Going to Cal for Haas is a good idea. For USC, transferring from a better school can help, provided you have the grades (harder to attain since the school is harder right?).
***I do not know if USC gives priority to CC students like the UC's. Does anyone know??
I was going to apply for USC Marshall like you guys, so hopefully I can be of some help. I am generally writing this from the perspective of a junior level transfer, community college student at Pasadena City College.
Decide fast whether you want to attend CC or a 4 year, because summer registration has already started. Late registration leaves you with the horrible and difficult Professors, giving you a higher chance of a poor grades. Trust me, I graduated from one of the top ten high schools in California, and some of these professors are just impossible. I cannot comment for those transferring from a 4 year institution, so the rest of these steps are useless for ya.
Decide when you want to transfer. Do you want a junior transfer or sophomore transfer? The rule of thumb here is, the worse high school record you have, the more you'll want to aim for a junior level transfer. They will disregard your high school record and SAT's once you attain over 30 college semester units.
Go to the USC site, find your articulation agreement.
(More information here: http://www.marshall.usc.edu/web/Unde...fm?doc_id=3451
Whip out an excel spreadsheet and begin plotting out your coursework. When you your schedule, pay close attention to:
WRIT 130/140 (English Composition 2, also a University requirement)
ECON 203 (Microeconomics)
ECON 205 (Macroeconomics)
MATH 118 or MATH 125 (Business Calculus)
These classes are very important, you should gauge your ability and plan accordingly.
You should aim to finish these classes before applications are turned in. If you manage to attain good grades before you first turn in your USC application, you will have an advantage over other students who scheduled these courses later on. College adcom's have a much easier time gauging your abilities if they can see the grades in your important classes.
Here's a strategy I used: If you know you will have trouble in Calculus, schedule breadth classes, and have a lighter unit load than usual. This helps by giving you more time to study for calc.
You will find your breadth classes in the articulation agreement found on the USC site. This should be finished for junior level transfers.
Becareful when picking classes too, some of them do not transfer. CC's also have courses that only exist during Spring and Fall, so again, be becareful when setting up classes during Winter/Summer semesters. Be sure to check old course catologues to see if the CC offers that specific course. You can also e-mail the instructor or dean to see if that class will be offer for the term you need.
Once you know your courses, go to ratemyprofessor.com. Find courses you are going to for this Summer, and choose the class with the Professor you'd like. Since it's your first semester, try to avoid Professors under 2 or even 3, unless you're very familiar with the subject already. Avoid Professors that are a joke (unless you're trying to give yourself extra time for another class), because they're just damaging to your future.
If all the classes are already filled, consider taking breadth classes for your first semester. There are many special topic breadth classes that hardly fill up. If your college gives you registration priority for having more completed units, then this is extremely helpful. By loading up on breadth classes, you can gain registration early enough so that you may enroll in good teachers for your required calculus or english classes.
At my CC, Pasadena City College, the students will fill these "good classes" much before the lower unit students even have a chance to register. You can bypass this problem by racking up units in the less impacted breadth courses.
Register, enroll, apply for finaid, familiarize yourself with tutoring services, and other services if needed.
Side research. There's a vast amount of successful USC transfer information here, check it out! I believe the average GPA for admits hovered around 3.71. Of course, you should always be aiming for a 4.0. I would also recommend taking a look at the application now, just to see what they ask for. You should also look into what EC's are helpful. Go out and do some EC's if you're not working...this is important.