Advice and Tips on Interviewing for Trustee/Presidential Scholarships!

<p>First, congratulations to all the lucky applicants who received (or will soon receive) their invitations to interview along with their USC admissions. Many of you are admitted to highly selective programs/majors/Schools. And you get to hear the news so early! Only about 3% of those who submitted their applications by the Dec 1 scholarship deadline are among this year's merit finalists. Talk about highly competitive. Ivy admissions are around 6-9%, so no one should ever figure the top merit scholar finalists at USC are a safety or even a match. It's a very high reach for everyone.</p>

<p>I will point out once again that these selections are subjective, holistic decisions so while wonderful students are celebrating (rightfully so) getting the large packets this week, it is undeniably true (and sobering) that equally qualified candidates did not make the finalist list this year. Students with equally high or higher stats, some with just as excellent honors, some with equally compelling hardships or top scientific research or other incredible accomplishments are not getting great news and it can hurt. I write this again because every year it is just astonishing how competitive the field is and while those lucky few who have made it to the next tier rejoice, I feel a lot of compassion for those who came so very close. For many terrific students, your admission to USC will be coming in two months. But the reality is: for some families, the large merit awards would have made the difference between affording a USC education or choosing elsewhere. I know all kids wind up somewhere fabulous--and just want to acknowledge how arbitrary it can feel when an excellent candidate does not get the letter they hoped for. </p>

<p>So on with the competition!</p>

<p>Being a finalist for Trustee, Stamps, Mork, or Presidential scholarships means you will make a reservation to attend ExploreUSC--two days of getting to know the university while they get to know you. The events are a lot of fun, and parents are included if they want to attend/can afford the time and travel. Many students attend on their own and USC will offer to help pay for part of your travel costs (student only). In truth, they separate finalist from parent(s) and have activities planned for both sets for all of the two days. Students are paired with a current USC student in their major who will take them to dinner/hang out with them, show them around, and answer the sorts of questions you might have that only another student in your major would be able to answer. You will end up sleeping on the floor in this student's dorm/apartment, so not the most comfortable arrangement, but most finalists have a great time and learn a lot about what it would feel like to live on this campus. </p>

<p>Basically, USC uses this event to wine and dine you (well, the wine is for the parents only) and make you feel like the honored admittee you are. The famed USC Marching Band will roll in and surprise you! The Admissions reps who read your file will introduce her/himself and you'll meet professors and administrators in your School/major too. On the morning of the second day you will attend the scholarship interview. Advice has been to dress nicely. Basically, no torn jeans, limp t-shirts, hoodies... unless, I suppose, you are a punk artist/songwriter and need to make a statement. Otherwise (and mostly to be polite--they are about to award some of you up to $250,000 after all), you're safest dressing neatly. Many young men wear sport coats and pants. Some wear ties, others do not. You want to be comfortable but also respectful--think of what adult working professionals in your chosen field/major might wear. Again, if you are in a very creative major, you should expect those interviewing you will share your lifestyle, too.</p>

<p>For the interview, you will find tips in the posts from past years. In many cases, there will be a panel who will interview you made up of such people as the head of your department, a professor, and a current student (perhaps a current Trustee). They may ask you questions based on things you wrote in your essays (reread them! remember what you said!), or from current events in your field (keep up with the news--have some knowledge of who won a Grammy if you are a Music Industry major, or what's going on in Myanmar if you are an International Relations major--although don't worry about the areas outside of your field!) They are not quizzing you--but want to get a sense of how seriously you follow your field, how your passion translates into your actions everyday... that sort of thing. </p>

<p>Mostly they want to hear / see what you will bring to their department/School at USC. They realize these large scholarships are meant to draw in students who will likely have other great options down the road. USC is looking to add many high stat students who will, let's face it, add to their academic prestige. All the finalists fit this bill. But the department chair is looking for a slightly different profile. Each major is looking for leaders, those who will be active in their department's organizations, research, and those who will create their own opportunities. Theatre students who can talk about hopes to produce their own ISP (Independent Student Production) show their initiative and that they know that USC has a procedure for funding these. Impressive, if it's truly what you want to do and they can usually detect who is really interested in USC and who is just there collecting prizes. So my advice is to do your homework. Really research what your major has to offer and think hard about how you will utilize all of it. The selectors are looking to honor a student they will be proud of and who will bring positive energy to the School.</p>

<p>Of course, there are more finalists than scholarships, so at some point there will be luck. If you talk about your love of The Sims (Interactive major at SCA) and the professor was one of the founders of EA who helped create it -- hey! Great luck!! If the other candidates in your major happen to be kind of arrogant and give off the impression (openly talk about) wanting to go to Yale, where they were already accepted SCEA--they you may just be the lucky one who really really wants to go to USC! It will show! Great luck!! Or if you are the right demographic (female in a mostly male major; male in a mostly female major), bring an exciting background that fits perfectly into the new offerings (Comedy at SCA, for instance) you'll have a lot to talk about. Great luck!!</p>

<p>There are many finalists who do everything right and yet--there are limited scholarships. Like any super-selective competition, not everyone can win. But if you truly want to attend USC, it can be sometimes be helpful to somehow let the interview committee know it. </p>

<p>Lastly, not all majors/Schools are created equal. As many know, School of Cinematic Arts may be the top film school in the world. Just getting admitted is shockingly hard. (Similarly, USC has many niche majors/Schools where admissions is extremely selective) So to be invited to the scholarship interviews is more than frosting on the cake. It's sprinkles on the frosting. In these specialized fields, all the finalists want to attend USC and competition for the limited scholarships is really just crazy. I advise you breathe in (ahhh, I've been admitted to USC's Popular Music major---I'm so lucky!!!) and breathe out (ahhh, this scholarship interview process should just be fun--after all, they already really really like me). No one can control the outcome, so why not enjoy the great honor it certainly is to be invited to this party?</p>


<p>Who knew you could write a post that is too long for CC? LOL. Here's what I had to leave off:</p>

<p>There are several Trustee/Mork/Presidential scholars and parents who frequent this forum. If you have questions, please ask and someone will try to help. Frankly, we'd like to see every CC finalist get the prize. We're like that. And others with experience in this process, please add your advice, tips, observations.</p>

<p>I think your summary was excellent!</p>

<p>I'd emphasize being enthusiastic about your accomplishments and EC's above everything else. Smiling and making eye contact goes a long way too. Be positive! </p>

<p>The interviewers really seem to know your application (as Madbean pointed out) and will ask you about some of the important and some of the seemingly random parts of it. D got asked about why she was interested in USC when her parents both went to school X. Luckily, she had a fabulous answer ready to go and they really liked it. Be prepared for obvious questions like this. She did not get asked any current event or major type questions in her interview-- it was more about the things she wrote about in her essays and on her app. Others did get asked the type of questions Madbean mentioned though. </p>

<p>I prowled around a bit and came up with the Explore 2014 Agenda: <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>


<p>Dates if you don't already have them:</p>

<p>Monday - Tuesday
February 24 - 25, 2014</p>

<p>Thursday - Friday
February 27 - 28, 2014</p>

<p>Monday - Tuesday
March 3 - 4, 2014</p>

<p>Thursday - Friday
March 6 - 7, 2014</p>

<p>Monday - Tuesday
March 10 - 11, 2014</p>

<p>In the past the first two sessions were for Trustee/Mork/Stamps and the last three were for Presidential</p>

<p>This concerns candidates for the Marshall School of Business. It is stated in their mailings students who interview are asked to dress professionally. As madbean suggested for Marshall keep the torn jeans for casual wear around campus, not for a Marshall interview.</p>

<p>Here is one more suggestion. It has been reported students became frantic when they had problems finding the correct interview room. Take a short time after arrival to find out exactly where the room/office/classroom is located . Allow yourself time so you arrive promptly.</p>

<p>Are there any stats on what percent interviewing for a respective scholarship actually gets that scholarship?</p>

<p>actstudent, <a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Questions regarding logistics since I am not sure if I should to go with DS.
If he goes by himself, what is recommended transportation from the airport to USC? Please also comment on the approximate cost and how long we should allow for after the arrival of the flight to USC.
I read that the student will sleep in the dorm on the floor. Do they have to bring their own bedding?
If I go...Any good recommendation for the hotel for parent? I heard that the surrounding area is not that safe so I want to make sure route from hotel to school is safe. </p>

<p>^ Many kids use Primetime shuttle (you can reserve and pay online in advance) to get to USC from LAX. They often suggest (require) a 2-2.5 hour gap between leaving USC and getting to LAX (it isn't very far but traffic is bad). It usually takes about an hour after getting to shuttle stop at LAX until arriving at USC. I think it is $15 each way. There is also a public transportation route students use that is even cheaper, but D hasn't done it.</p>

<p>When D had an Explore student freshman year, the student brought a sleeping bag and pillow. D didn't have anything to offer the student in terms of bedding, so that was pretty important. </p>

<p>Many parents stay at the Radisson at USC or Vagabond-- both walking distance to USC and safe/clean enough. There are some great hotels by LA Live/downtown (only a few miles away) but you will pay $$$ for it. </p>

<p>Does anyone know when the link to sign up for Explore USC will be available? </p>

If your son RSVP to the event, there's a confirmation at the end of the process that answers most of your questions. I quote them below:

Program and Registration Fee</p>

<p>The Explore student may attend free of charge. Parents and family members are welcome and encouraged to attend. A program fee of $50 per parent or family member, payable by check, will be collected when you check-in.</p>

<p>Based upon the information you provided when registering, your total fee is $0. If applicable, you must provide payment in full at check-in; we are unable to accept Explore fees online. Payment by check is encouraged; payable to USC and include student USC ID on check. We cannot accept credit card payments.</p>

<p>Your Scholarship Interview</p>

<p>Scholarship interviews will take place on the second day of your program. Your specific interview time and location will be made available to you during the academic information session on the first day.</p>

<p>Interviews are scheduled to last 20-30 minutes and are usually conducted by a panel of three individuals (usually a faculty member, a staff member and a current USC scholarship student). Although interview questions will vary, they generally focus on your academic and personal interests, plans for involvement at USC and your goals for the future. We suggest business attire for your interview; the rest of the program is casual.</p>

<p>The scholarship interview will have a significant impact on our final scholarship decisions. You will be informed about the results of the scholarship competition by late March.</p>

<p>Student Travel Reimbursement</p>

<p>Students who need to fly to Los Angeles will receive monetary assistance to offset a portion of their ticket cost. Students from CA, AZ, or NV will receive half the cost of their ticket, up to $60. Students from other states and outside of the country will receive half the cost of their ticket, up to $200.</p>

<p>Travel Planning and Overnight Accommodations</p>

<p>Should you or your parents need to make flight plans or arrange for an overnight hotel stay for Explore (students are housed in university housing ), we recommend using USC's official travel agency, STA Travel. Call them at (480) 296-0544 or (877) 821-8657 and mention that you'll be attending an Explore USC program. They have access to specially discounted plane tickets and hotel rates. STA travel will apply the student travel reimbursement to your ticket. The Radisson Hotel @ USC has special rates during Explore USC. Please click here for more information.</p>

<p>International students must make their travel arrangements through STA to receive the additional discount.
If you choose to make your own travel arrangements, please bring the receipt itinerary (student name and price of ticket must be included) from the airline for the student's ticket to the Explore program.</p>

<p>Download a travel information form that can be emailed to STA Travel.</p>

<p>Getting to and from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)</p>

<p>If you are flying into Los Angeles International Airport, there are a couple of ways to get to USC:</p>

One-way fare will be approximately $45.
Taxis are available under yellow signs outside of the baggage claim area of each terminal.
Prime Time Shuttle offers a discounted one-way student fare of $13.50
Prime Time shuttles meet passengers under the orange signs outside of the baggage claim area of each terminal.
Reservations should be made ahead of time and are available online at or by calling (800) 733-8267. Please inform them that you are to be dropped off at the USC Gate 2 entrance on Exposition Blvd. The parking attendant will direct you to the Admission Center.
USC will provide complimentary shuttles to LAX on the 2nd day of the Explore program. Shuttles will depart at 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.

<p>Driving Directions and Parking at USC</p>

<p>USC is located just south of downtown Los Angeles, at the Exposition Boulevard exit of Interstate 110. For parking location and directions to campus, please click here.</p>

<p>When you enter the campus at Gate 3, be sure to stop and speak with the parking attendant. He or she will show you where to park, provide you with a permit, and can also provide you with directions to the Admission Center (Ronald Tutor Campus Center, TCC).
Students should bring their luggage with them to check-in (we will provide storage facilities).</p>

<p>Sample Agenda
9:00 a.m. Check-in begins in Ronald Tutor Campus Center (TCC)
10:00-2:30 p.m. Ongoing activities: campus tours, neighborhood bus tours, Pre-Health sessions, Thematic Option/Honors sessions, and lunch on your own
2:30-3:30 p.m. Welcome Session
3:30-5:30 p.m. Academic information sessions
5:30-7:30 p.m. STUDENTS: meet USC student host, eat dinner, social activities
PARENTS: parents' social, dinner with faculty and academic department representatives.
7:30-9:00 p.m. STUDENTS: evening activities
PARENTS: done for the day</p>

<p>DAY 2
8:15-8:45 a.m. Financial Aid Session
8:30-9:30 a.m. STUDENTS: breakfast with USC students (note: some interviews begin at 9:00 a.m.)
PARENTS: parent breakfast
9:30-12:00 p.m. STUDENTS: scholarship interviews
PARENTS: information sessions (housing, student life, public safety, student panel)
12:15-1:00 p.m. Lunch (staff from admission, financial aid, and student affairs offices will be available)
1:00 p.m. Conclusion of program</p>

<p>What Students Should Bring to Explore USC</p>

<pre><code>The 1st day of the program is casual, you should look nice, but wear something that allows you to be comfortable, because Explore USC includes quite a bit of walking. Your interview will take place on the 2nd day and business attire is recommended.
Sleeping bag and pillow.
Umbrella and jacket (the weather in L.A. is unpredictable this time of year).
Pen and paper.
Towel and toiletries.
Spending money (for snacks, bookstore shopping, transportation costs, etc.).
A cell phone, if you have one. This makes it much easier for families to keep in touch while on campus.
Completed and signed Parental Consent card (downloadable here).

<p>What Parents Should Bring to Explore USC</p>

<pre><code>Casual clothes and comfortable walking shoes. The parent reception and dinner are not formal.
Umbrella and jacket (the weather in L.A. is unpredictable this time of year).
Pen and paper.
Spending money (for snacks, bookstore shopping, transportation costs, etc.).
A cell phone, if you have one. This makes it much easier for families to keep in touch while on campus.
Check for registration fee, if applicable, please print student's USC ID in the memo field of the check.



It's already up since this morning. At least for my D. Go to Admision and then click the RSVP link.</p>

<p>@madbean thanks! Of the trustees though what percent would you say gets it?</p>

<p>One more perk of early admission notification is you are able to register for USC housing. The registration site opens on Monday, I believe, and it costs $45 to register. It's a one-time fee (non-refundable) and a lot of us think it's worth it to get a very early position in the Freshman Housing Lottery. In order to register, you'll need to select your desired dorm, but once you've registered you may return back as often as you want and change your selections. There is no downside to picking a random dorm right now because you have until the Housing site closes (some time in May) to change your mind on your first choice dorm, but the earlier you register, the higher the likelihood you'll get your first choice. Thanks to 2018dad for reminding me about this.</p>

<p>@madbean , </p>

<p>First off, your posts, along with those of others, have been truly indispensable in what has been a very stressful time (USC is my top choice). I've simply been lurking until now but I want to thank you. </p>

<p>Which would you say are the best dorms? I've heard Birnkrant is a good mix of everything but Parkside has AC. </p>

<p>If location would lead you to any conclusion, I'll be a film major. </p>

<p>Similar question. Is AC versus non AC a big deal for dorm life at USC?</p>

<p>^This depends on you. What are you comfortable with? It is hot many months (especially Aug., Sept,. and Oct-- warmest months in CA) without AC, but it often cools down at night. D used several fans to deal with the heat freshman year, but made it a priority to have AC after that. You have to decide if AC is more important to you than a traditional dorm style experience. </p>

<p>For more info- use the search function. There are many threads on housing on this forum with a variety of opinions.</p>

This depends on you. What are you comfortable with? It is hot many months (especially Aug., Sept,. and Oct-- warmest months in CA) without AC, but it often cools down at night.


<p>After living in SoCal for several decades, my experience is that the air outside may cool down, but without some type of cross-ventilation the inside of housing will stay very warm. Several years ago we installed AC in our condo (which is only a mile from the ocean) for this reason. I would definitely go for AC'ed housing at USC. </p>

<p>^ True. I should have said it cools down from 85 to 70 (but still feels like 80+ inside sometimes) :)</p>