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Having doubts about whether or not to test your luck applying to USC? Trust me, I was right there with you a couple of years ago. The college application process is a lengthy and stressful one, especially when trying to look your absolute best when applying to schools like USC. 


Coming from a small public high school in Hawaii, I was very unsure if I met the academic and experience requirements that could get me accepted into a great university. I went back and forth between the thought of whether it was worth it to even apply. Was it better to go for it and hope for the best with the looming possibility of rejection or to play it safe? As you can probably guess, I fully went for it and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Looking back I now understand that the correct choice is to always go for it and take the chance despite the risks, and let me tell you why.


The college application process in and of itself is very random and there’s no one guaranteed way of getting accepted. Yes, you are going to be up against some of the best students in the country, but there are other ways in which you can stand out and showcase your potential. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to take full advantage of my high school, and while I also recommend this, I would add to take full advantage of your high school’s offerings that you are truly passionate about. Whether it’s marching band, athletics, student government, or community activism, do it with passion because it inspires and drives you, not because it’s what you think colleges want to see. 


At the end of the day, that’s really what life comes down to: passion. Be passionate in your academics, your involvements, and your commitments. That’s all anybody can really ask of you. So despite the risks, you should be proud of all the work you put into things you really care about to get to this point, and while a letter of acceptance could be the cherry on top, it is in no way a testament to your abilities and potential. 


So let this hopefully serve as a reassurance more than anything. If you didn’t get a perfect GPA, if you didn’t score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests, if you think there’s nothing that sets you apart from other applicants, don’t worry! I can say with full confidence that you’re special in your own unique way, cliche but true, and that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (courtesy of Wayne Gretzy and Michael Scott). Push yourself and believe in your abilities. Take that chance because why not! Most importantly remember to enjoy yourself along the way and do things that inspire you and fuel you with passion. Character is worth much more than pieces of papers (yes, even in college applications!) and that is what will carry you the furthest in life. If that doesn’t bring you to USC, don’t worry one bit! There are countless opportunities out there and you have the potential to grasp them all. If that does bring you to USC, amazing! We’re so happy to have you! 


Keep working hard, being resilient, and going for what you want! I promise it will pay off in the end, even if it’s not in the way you had thought (but hopefully in the way that’s best). You got this and as always fight on! 🙂

Timothy Harrington