USC’s class of 2026 is the most diverse class yet despite a shrinking acceptance rate

This group brings record numbers of first-generation and POC students admitted to USC.

A photo of students touring USC's campus

USC welcomed a record number of first-generation students in the 2022 admission decisions, with an increasing number of Black, Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander identifying students.

College is a time of new beginnings; for many students, it can be their first experience away from home – a time of newfound independence from parents. However, for a growing proportion of newly admitted students, this transition to college is a first for the entire family; one out of five of the class of 2026 identify as a first-generation student.

Margie Amenero, a first-generation student in the class of 2026, said she is overjoyed that more first generation students got accepted into USC.

“I think it’s amazing,” Amenero said. “Most first-gen students come from good families, and many times their families came to the U.S. to give these kids a better life. So seeing so many of us get the opportunity to attend college is amazing and I just hope the number of us keeps growing.”

The admitted class of 2026 also boasts an average GPA of 3.9, along with three-fourths of students identifying as either Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander.

Pedro Cuelho, a newly-admitted student from Brazil, attributes his acceptance to his experience immigrating to the U.S. without speaking English and working hard to learn the language for his current job.

“I think that was something that really stood out,” Cuelho said. “That made me stand out from other people.”

International students made up 18% of admissions, including students from China, India, Brazil and more.

“The fact that first students decide to go to a college is definitely amazing and a great choice,” said Stella Hwang, a recently admitted student who moved from South Korea to the United States six years ago. “The schools are opening new pathways for the family and the student.”

USC Admissions reported 69,000 applicants with 8,198 admitted. The acceptance rate for admitted students this year was under 12%, a slight decrease of half a percentage point from last year.

For Chloe-Eloise Nallet, a newly admitted student from Ivory Coast, it was the combination of academics and recreation that USC offered that appealed to her the most to apply.

“I like the balance,” Nallet said. “I really enjoy the spirit that USC had.”