Preparing by Grade

Because each individual is unique, there is no one, perfect way to prepare for USC. The following recommendations will make you better prepared and a more competitive candidate when it is time to apply to USC.

Click on the buttons below to view suggested courses and other helpful tips.

1
Tell your parents you want to attend a selective college.
2
Take algebra and a foreign language this year, if possible.
3
Study and strive for A’s. Though colleges won't see your pre-high school grades, studying hard now will prepare you for the years to come.
4
Visit college Websites for information on their requirements.
5
Plan to pursue a college preparatory track in high school.
6
Develop skills that are valuable in high school and essential in college: word processing, online research, note-taking and time management.
1
If you haven’t done so yet,

meet with your school counselor to plan a college preparatory track.

2
Take algebra or geometry and a foreign language both semesters.
3

Strive for A’s in all your classes; do at least one hour of homework every night.

4
Form a study group with friends who also plan to go to college, and study together as often as possible. If you fall behind in a course, get tutoring.
5
Create a résumé file with:
  • Your report cards,
  • A list of awards and honors you receive;
  • A list of all school and community activities you take part in;
  • A list of offices you hold in these organizations; and
  • A list of volunteer or paid jobs you hold.
  • Update this file every semester.
6
Work on a science fair or other project. Become involved in at least one extracurricular activity and, if possible, get really involved.
7
Over the summer:
  • Take part in academic enrichment programs and special summer workshops or camps for subjects that interest you. (Many of these are held on college campuses.)
  • Alternatively, retake a class in which you received a grade you weren’t satisfied with, or take a new class in summer school.
1
Meet with your counselor to make sure you are taking all the college-prep courses you need for USC.
2
Strive for A’s in all of your classes, and do at least two hours of homework every night.
3
Continue to form study groups with friends. Seek tutoring if you need it.
4
Work on a science fair project or another project that interests you. Get involved in at least one new extracurricular activity. Try to take a leadership role.
5
Prepare for any SAT Subject tests you plan to take. Sign up in March for the May tests, or in April for the June tests.
6
Over the summer:
  • Participate in academic enrichment programs and special summer workshops or camps; or
  • Register for a community college course; and/or
  • Volunteer in your community.
1
Meet with your counselor to ensure you can take the college-preparatory courses you need to attend USC.
2
Strive for A’s in all of your classes. This is the year colleges will examine most closely.
3
Do at least two hours of homework every night.
4
Visit www.collegeboard.com to prepare for the PSAT and register for the exam in October.
5
Attend college fairs and presentations by college representatives who visit your school.
6
If you plan to take the SAT Subject tests: sign up in March for the May SAT Subject tests, or in April for the June tests.
7
Continue your extracurricular activities. Try to take a leadership role.
8
Update your résumé file.

Work to improve your favorite skill, and seek out people or programs to help you.
9
Explore ways to help other people by pursuing your main interests.
10
Register for any AP exams in the spring.
11
Come to USC for a campus visit!
12
In the spring, plan your senior-year classes, including AP or IB courses, if your school offers them. Plan to take a fourth year of math and laboratory science, if possible.
13
In the spring, respond to the college mail you will receive. This will allow you to receive view books, catalogues and applications from the colleges that interest you.
14
Over the summer:
  • Prepare for the SAT or ACT.
  • Apply to any summer programs, workshops, internships and camps in your community that interest you.
  • Complete any audition tapes, art portfolios or special materials required for admission to programs such as fine arts, music and theatre.
1
Meet with your college counselor to make sure you have taken or are taking the college preparatory classes you need for admission to USC.
2
Strive for A’s in all your classes.
3
Continue to form study groups.
4
Do at least two to three hours of homework every night. The grades you earn in your senior year are extremely important.
5
In early September, register for the SAT or the ACT.
6
Continue your extracurricular activities. Find new ways to demonstrate leadership, persistence, thoughtfulness, creativity or some other special trait through your activities.
7
Pay special attention to deadlines, and mark them on your personal calendar.
8
In October, ask your teachers and counselors for recommendations.
9
Write your college essay.
10
Apply by USC’s December deadline to be considered for merit scholarships or admission to programs such as music, cinema or the fine arts.
  • To apply, visit usc.edu/commonapp to complete the Common Application and the USC Supplement.
  • Keep copies of all the forms and materials you submit to USC.
  • In December, make sure your recommendation letters and transcripts have been sent.
11
Take any remaining AP exams, usually given in May.
12
If you are admitted to USC:
  • Plan to attend Explore USC or Preview USC in the spring.
  • Submit your Commitment Deposit online by May 1. Inform other colleges that you were admitted to that you will be attending USC.
  • Be sure your final high school transcript has been sent to USC by July.
  • Apply for housing and participate in First-Year Orientation at USC.