USC adopts new early action policy

USC undergraduate applicants will now have the option to receive their admission decisions months in advance.

This fall first year USC applicants will have the option to apply for early action, which will return their admissions decisions far earlier than previously possible.

For students, especially applicants who have USC at or near the top of their school choices, early action is a way to both eliminate stress and potentially decrease the number of applications they have to submit. This has the additional benefit of saving students the money they are required to spend on application fees.

“It’s a response to the demands of the marketplace,” USC Director of Admission Kirk Brennan said. “We’ve long considered this, and we’ve finally decided to give it a try.”

Early action gives students their admissions result early and relieves the pressure of a premature commitment. In comparison, early decision is a binding admissions agreement that comes out earlier than other decisions, while regular decision is non-binding and the last round of admissions to roll out.

Students applying early action to USC will be required to submit their applications by Nov. 1, ensuring that they will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships and that they will receive their admissions decision in mid-to-late January of 2023.

“I think that it will provide a good deal of relief to a large number of students,” Brennan said. “The fact that more students will hear earlier will provide a little relief in the system and to students and families who are waiting and worrying, too.”

However, not all undergraduate applicants will be granted this new opportunity. Students applying to portfolio-based schools – including Iovine and Young Academy, Kaufman School of Dance, Roski School of Art & Design, the School of Architecture, the School of Cinematic Arts, the School of Dramatic Arts and the Thornton School of Music – will be ineligible for an early action decision.

For other prospective applicants, the option to apply early is a relief.

“I think it increases the chances because it just shows my demonstrated interest, even though it’s not super significant,” Alex Donnel, a senior at Palos Verdes High School and aspiring USC student, said. “I’m showing that I want to go to [USC] and I want to do whatever I can to help that.”

For current USC students, who have already endured the college application process, an early action option has little to no downside.

“I think it helps people make decisions, and it helps people plan, [especially] people whose first choice was USC,” Ananya Shah, a senior at USC, said. “I’m hard pressed to find a downside to it.”

The new policy aims to give students more hope during their application season by increasing both the speed of the decision and the number of spaces available.

“We do plan to admit more students earlier than we have in the past,” Brennan said. “In the past, we’ve offered roughly 1000 offers of admission in January through our scholarship or first year scholarship finalist process. This year, we think we’re going to offer about twice that coming out.”

The undergraduate admissions department is anticipating that about 20 to 25 percent of incoming classes will be admitted under the early admissions umbrella. Applicants that do not get accepted early can still defer their application to the regular decision deadline, giving students a second chance at getting accepted. No applicant will be rejected during the early action round.