My main advice to future college applicants is to start the application process early and ask the important questions now and up to the time that you actually submit the application. Over the years, it seems instead that far too many applicants first submit their application and then start discussing things, in sort of a post-mortem fashion, on forums like this one. But the time to gain some potential insights and to wok out your own unique and specific approach to applying is now and up to your submission date… and not thereafter.
Every year, many applicants come to CC asking about their application’s chances for success only after actually applying. But it is instead much more important to think about those chances and what USC is actually seeking from you before you apply and hit send within the Common Application.
And in terms of getting “Chanced” for USC, or for any elite college or university, it is virtually impossible for others to predict what may or may not occur in your specific case. With recent USC admit rates in the range of 11-16% (it was 11.4% in 2019 but rose to 16% in 2020), and with 4K+ applicants with 4.0 unweighted GPAs and test scores in the 99th percentile among those not gaining admission each year, your success will instead likely depend on too many potential factors for anyone to correctly evaluate… making predicting admission nearly impossible. But this also shows that they admit many without perfect grades or test scores. They are after all seeking to craft a well-rounded and diverse freshman class comprised of those who actually have a strong affinity for or connection to USC. They do aim to admit those who they project will thrive well at USC and bring something unique to the campus environment.
It is not the case that USC is looking for a freshman class of circa 3K comprised necessarily of well-rounded students. They are instead looking to craft a well-rounded class comprised of unique individuals who might bring something interesting and specifically needed to campus. So use the admission process to demonstrate that. Let the readers understand what USC may be gaining by admitting you specifically.
Your individual admission decision will likely come down to a composite and holistic analysis of your stats coupled with writing ability / essays, ECs, potential leadership roles, potential other unique qualifiers (URM, First Gen, geography, demographics, etc.), your Why USC? explanation/reasoning, etc. And that “Why USC?” explanation is likely the most important single component of your application. You do need to provide a well-thought out and well-researched answer as to why attending USC is truly significant and important to you specifically. And moreover, USC does want to gain a sense as to what you will be uniquely contributing to the greater USC community if admitted.
Before applying, I suggest reading through the very helpful insider’s guide to USC admissions…
Both of my daughters gained admission to USC and attended. One remains there as a rising senior. So if you have questions about the process or anything USC, feel free to ask. @CADREAMIN has had even more attend USC, so also an excellent resource in this process.