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It is officially the middle of the summer.  Barbecues, Pool Days, Baseball (post all-star break)… and the dreaded start of school is around the corner.  Many of you are rising seniors and I hope you are looking forward to your last year of high school.

For all you rising seniors, we are officially one week away from the opening of the Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement (AKA The USC Admission Application).

High School Seniors: Get Ready To Apply

I understand the college preparation process may have already started to be a little stressful.  It is not uncommon for teachers and parents to constantly warn about “college applications” throughout high school.  You may already be on your Nth draft of your “college essay.”  Some of you may currently be on a college tour wondering why your parents are always so excited about the dining halls.

Given that the Common App will go live next week…. and you are about to start your senior year of high school…. and we are about to start mailing and emailing a ton of stuff… I thought I would give a few thoughts regarding the coming year of college admission and a few bits of advice.

The Common App Opens (Don’t Finish It Now)

August 1 is the official opening of the Common App along with our USC Writing Supplement.  August (not necessarily the 1st) is a great month to start peaking around inside the Common App interface to become familiar with all of your tools and all of the schools you may or may not want to consider.  When I say “peak,” I don’t mean you need to start applying.  More often than not a large part of stress comes from students and parents adding additional, earlier deadlines to items in the hopes of “increasing chances” of admission.  I will be one of many to tell you that, at USC, an earlier application has no bearing on your admission.  No extra points, no extra consideration… nothing.

Of course, starting early is a great tactic to give you enough time to polish and refine your application over time.  Just don’t rush it.  An application received this early in the process is rarely a strong application likely because of the rush and lack of refinement.

My advice: Take your remaining weeks in the summer to learn more about the schools you are thinking about applying to and add them to your list of schools in the Common App.  Explore each of the various schools’ supplements and unique deadlines.  If you are a “type-A” list-maker, use this opportunity to build that awesome list of writing topics and deadlines for each school and spread it out over your next few months.

As a reminder, our application is not due until December 1st (in order to be considered for merit-based scholarships – and you do).

Add Your Name to Mailing Lists

Many colleges want to send you information and invitations to events (us included!).  By adding schools to your list in the Common App, you will help each school know that you would like more information about them.  Additionally, many schools have webforms to request more information.  For example – here’s your opportunity to fill out one for us:  Request Information on the Viterbi School of Engineering.

Give schools the opportunity to send you information, either electronically, or in print.  Many, including us, will hold events both on and off campus over the next few months.  We want to invite you, but you have to tell us you want to be invited!  All of these opportunities (print, email, events, etc) are your chance to learn more, ask questions and determine if you want to keep a school on your Common App list of schools.


Before this post gets too long (likely too late), let’s stop here and check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this page-turning adventure!


Paul Ledesma

As Executive Director, Paul oversees Undergraduate Admission for all programs at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. He was born and raised in southern California and is a lifetime Dodgers fan. He enjoys traveling (Italy may be a second home), discovering new restaurants in LA (tacos anyone?), and while he may not qualify as a bonafide movie-buff, he loves movies (especially comic book movies). He studied Psychology for his bachelor's degree, minored in Public Management, and was active in leadership for community service groups Troy Camp and Dance Marathon while attending USC. When he's not working he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and rescued pup and kitty in Redondo Beach, CA. (well, maybe not the cat so much) Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his