Prepare Academically for USC

Attending college is more important than ever. This information will help introduce you to the college application process and the classes you should take in middle school and high school to prepare. 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.

Our Preparing for USC brochure will help you make sure you are closely following a college preparatory track throughout middle- and high school, and introduce you to the college application and admission process.

Plan Now

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 ft into, and contribute to, the USC community.

    Find the USC admission counselor for your high school.

College Preparatory Track

A college prep schedule requires you 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: Visit the Test Optional FAQ page.

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.