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New Trojans, fresh challenges

New students sign up for activities and clubs during Welcome Week. (USC Photo/Lillian Insalata)

A basketball player who as a teenager wrote a smartphone game for his friends. A girl who took 11 Advanced Placement courses while working to supplement her family’s income. And a student who launched recycling and tutoring businesses in high school, and even held a patent, before earning Internet fame for asking supermodel Kate Upton to prom.

These standout students are part of this year’s incoming freshman class, a group that is among the most diverse and academically talented in the university’s 133-year history.

“Our entering freshmen have set new standards of quality and diversity for USC,” said Timothy Brunold, dean of admission. “Each year, we seek to enroll students who bring diverse perspectives and myriad strengths to our student body. We have attracted 2,922 talented young adults who are sure to someday have a profound impact on the world.”

USC received 47,358 applications for 2,922 spots in the incoming class. Average standardized test scores were in the 95th percentile, and the majority of freshmen finished in the top 10 percent of their high school class. The average unweighted GPA of the group was 3.73. With this year’s freshmen applicant pool, USC’s admission rate was 19.8 percent — the most selective in the university’s history.

The class represents a highly competitive and diverse group of students with broad geographic representation:

  • The class ranks among the most ethnically diverse ever enrolled at USC, with 22 percent underrepresented minority students, including 6 percent African-American, 14 percent Latino, 2 percent Native American/Pacific Islander and 19 percent Asian. In addition, 13 percent of matriculating students are the first in their families to attend a university.
  • Outside California, the leading U.S. states supplying new class members at USC are, in order: Illinois, Texas, New York, Washington and Massachusetts. The most represented places of origin outside the U.S. are China (including Hong Kong), India, Canada, South Korea, Italy and Taiwan.
  • Overall, 47 percent of newly enrolled students are from California, and 15 percent are international, representing 48 foreign countries.

USC enrolls more underrepresented minority students (African-American, Latino and Native American) than most other private research universities in the country (about 3,400 undergraduates as of fall 2012, or 19 percent of its total undergraduate population).

Moreover, USC enrolls more than 4,200 low-income undergraduate students (as defined by Pell Grant eligibility), also more than most private research universities. Most importantly, low-income and underrepresented minority students at USC graduate at rates comparable to the overall undergraduate population.

USC offers admission without regard to ability to pay, and the university meets 100 percent of the demonstrated need of on-time financial aid applicants. More than two-thirds of USC’s undergraduate students receive some form of financial assistance.

For more information about USC financial aid, visit

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New Trojans, fresh challenges

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