University of Southern California

Juniors: Plan Your Senior-Year Coursework

Meet with your counselor to plan your senior-year coursework. A fourth year of math and a laboratory science as well as a fourth year of science are highly recommended. And if your school does not offer an AP, IB or other advanced curriculum, consider dual enrollment -- enrolling in a course at a local community college or university. You should be challenging yourself to signal to colleges that you are likely to succeed if admitted. "Academic ability is the ante to get into the game," says Katharine Harrington, Vice President of Admissions and Planning at University of Southern California.

For more information about a recommended course of study and the role of the academic record in admissions, see Chapter 5, "The Academic Record," and Appendix II, "A Recommended Course of Study," in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.

Elsa Heydenreich Clark, Immaculate Heart High School

Elsa Heydenreich Clark is the Director of College Counseling at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, California, a private Catholic college preparatory school for 555 young women in grades 9 through 12.  A graduate of the University of Southern California, Clark also holds a Master of Science in School Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles.

Since 1988, Clark has counseled juniors and seniors at Immaculate Heart, a unique institution with a storied history in Los Angeles. Founded in 1906, today the school ‘s student body includes many who are the daughters and granddaughters of graduates. It is also known for its diversity, reflecting the demographics of the Los Angeles population — two-thirds of those attending are students of color and many are first generation.

Admission: Rescinded

We received the following message from a dean of admission we know: It's only March and we'll be rescinding our first admission. Children: do not lie. Students -- and parents -- don't forget that all offers of admission to college are conditional. Colleges may rescind admission for a number of reasons -- if a student enrolls and makes a deposit at more than one college;  if there is a significant change in senior year grades;  if there is a lapse in judgment or integrity such as cheating or suspension for alcohol use. And admission can be rescinded for lying, for misrepresenting any facts or work in the application -- grades, test scores, essays, a change in personal circumstances, extracurricular activities, a disciplinary matter. In signing the application, students certify that every piece of information and material in the application is the students' own work product and pledge they have upheld the highest standards of honesty, character, and moral and ethical principles.  In signing, you are saying, “This is who I am and what I stand for and I stand by it.” That’s something to be taken very seriously as a matter of personal honor. Colleges require it, and rightly expect it. This is a big deal. "The notion of integrity is the most important value we reflect on when we think about students attending the university," says Kirk Brennan, Director of Admission at University of Southern California.

College Admission on India Ink at The New York Times

Our primer on standardized testing for international students applying from India is up on the New York Times' blog India Ink. Thank you to Jacques Steinberg, education writer and author of The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College, who helms the New York Times' blog The Choice, for inviting us to explain the role testing plays in the admission decisions of American colleges and universities. And thank you to the experts who contributed to the feature: Jarrid Whitney, executive director of admissions and financial aid at the California Institute of Technology; Katharine Harrington, vice president for admissions and planning at the University of Southern California; Jenny Rickard, chief enrollment officer at Bryn Mawr College; Jim Montoya, vice president for higher education at the College Board; and Amin Gonzalez, associate director of admissions at Yale University and his colleagues Rebekah Westphal and Jean Lee.