Prepare Academically for USC

This information will introduce you to the college admission  process and the classes you should take in middle school and high school to prepare for college. We encourage you to share this with your family so they can help you reach your goal. Remember, college admission and financial aid requirements can change from year to year, so stay in close contact with your school counselor for advice and for the most current college information.

Check out our Preparing for USC brochure to learn more about preparing for the college admission process. 

College Preparatory Track

To prepare for college admission, you will be required to take at least four college preparatory classes every year of high school. 

We recommend you take: 

  • Courses that will challenge you. Take the most difficult courses you think you can handle. 
  • Extra classes in the subjects you excel in. 
  • Classes that can help you earn college credit, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. 

Specifically, we recommend you take: 

  • English and Literature: 4 years 
  • Math: 3-4 years 
  • Foreign Language: 2-4 years 
  • Laboratory/Natural/Physical Science: 2-4 years 
  • History and Social Science: 2 years 
  • Academic Electives: 3 years 

Standardized Testing

Learn how tests, such as the SAT or ACT, factor into your application review at USC on ourTest Optional FAQ page. 

Four Facts About Applying to College

  • 1

    Students eligible for need-based financial aid may find that college is more affordable than they think. A variety of programs are available to assist with covering the cost of a USC education, from merit scholarships and grants to free tuition for U.S. families earning less than $80,000 per year. 

  • 2

    There are many colleges right for you. Research your options and you will find that more than one college can meet all your criteria. Visit the College Board’s Big Future website for free and accurate information about thousands of colleges and universities. 

  • 3

    Many colleges, including USC, do not consider a family’s ability to pay when making admission decisions. This is called “need-blind” admission. 

  • 4

    USC takes a holistic approach to admission decisions. In addition to your academic record, we weigh qualities such as leadership potential, talent and personal character. We want to see how you might fit into, and contribute to, the USC community. 

    Want to learn more about applying to college? Find the USC admission counselor for your high school.  

Visit Campus

If you are in ninth grade or above, and you haven’t done so yet, learn more about the USC experience by attending an admission information session or signing up for a campus tour.