21 Mar

How to Appeal a USC Transfer Rejection Letter


For USC transfers, appeals must be submitted via the USC applicant portal within two weeks of receiving your admissions decision. Successful appeal letters are calculated, strategic, and compelling in addressing the underlying deficiencies of your Common Application. 


Side note: If you are seeking information on USC freshman appeals, click here.

The USC Transfer Appeal Process:

USC transfer appeals hold a special place in our hearts at College Zoom. Back in the spring of 2010, a USC transfer appeal was the first-ever appeal that we helped a student attempt. Its success allowed a girl to remain in Los Angeles and stay with her boyfriend. The following year, we helped her boyfriend transfer into USC, too, with a 3.1 transfer GPA, without the need for an appeal. Now they're married. 🙂

How a Transfer Appeal Works:

Rather than writing a statement that emotionally professes how much USC is your dream school, your appeal should compellingly address the unique deficiencies in your original Common Application.

What Should I Write About?

You'll want to re-evaluate everything in the Common Application you submitted. USC is evaluating the extent to which you strongly embody the qualities of ideal USC students. Yes, things that have happened since you applied are obviously new and may be compelling. However, contrary to popular belief, the new information that strengthens your candidacy can actually pertain to things that occurred before you submitted your USC application. In this instance, you're introducing information that is "old" to you, making it new to the admissions officers. Additionally, giving information you previously shared a new characterization isn't the same as repeating something you previously discussed in your Common Application.

Length Limit

Appeals exceeding 1 page are strongly and vehemently discouraged by the admissions office. Nonetheless, we've helped a surprising number of students write longer appeals that have succeeded. Tread extremely carefully. Exceeding the 1 page limit is living dangerously on an admission's officer's borrowed time, and most students who exceed the 1 page limit are actually inefficient, overly stylistic and descriptive writers who will present poorly.

The only justifiable reason to exceed 1 page is if the complexity of the facts warrant additional untangling (caution: that doesn't mean laundry-listing). Longer, successful appeal letters are still a fraction of the size students felt they needed to convey their message. For example, the longest USC appeal we've ever had succeed was nearly 2 pages long. The appeal did not move the page margins out to maximum positions, use a super tiny font size, insert pictures, or employ any other creative hacks. Hint: stay away from these tactics. We first helped a student develop a draft that became 5 pages long, and then condensed it to 1 and ¾ pages without losing the 5 page version's detail, key visceral descriptions, and power. Think of every compound sentence pulling the intellectual weight of 2 to 3 normal sentences. Every word was engineered to have an express purpose.

That level of word-smithing will allow the vast majority of compelling appeal arguments to fit into 1 page, portraying yourself as a strong, powerful thinker. That same level of extreme word-smithing is necessary to keep a reader's attention if you have to exceed the 1 page limit. Writing potently, in the most compact form, takes time. However, quality beats speed to success.

The First Step

Begin by identifying and prioritizing the most important deficiencies from your original application that you'll address in your USC appeal letter. Remember that even long letters are extremely condensed versions that are forced to exclude information you'll deem to be relevant and important. We can help you develop your best argument by analyzing your application and cross-examining you with the right questions to explore your angles. Then, we can help you word smith and condense your strongest messages into their most concise forms, to fit within the 1 page limit and ensure your letter is viewed in the most appropriate and acceptable way.

We Can Help You:

A College Zoom counselor can walk you step-by-step through articulating your strongest appeal or waitlist letter. In the first meeting, we’ll analyze your original application with you, live and 1-on-1, to answer your questions and identify deficiencies and missed opportunities. Having honed our strategies and methods over the past 13 years, we'll cross-examine you with deep lines of questioning to uncover new and compelling information together. We'll find specific substantiating details and show you how to articulate them. Often, the better information found is larger in volume than what can fit in your letter. Therefore, once everything is laid out, we'll help you prioritize and package your argument in the most compelling way. This first session is sold as a 1.5-hour meeting (costing $525). However, for majors requiring a portfolio, a 1 hour and 45 minute meeting is necessary to include the portfolio review (for a total cost of $612.50).

After meeting #1, you’ll have a finished and detailed outline, so detailed that it'll resemble more of a first draft. Most students who are decently confident writers will feel very confident polishing their letter on their own. Students who are not confident writers, or surprisingly, students who are excellent writers yet are prone to overanalyze and get stuck in analysis paralysis, often benefit from a second meeting.

If another meeting to polish is desired, a 1.5 hours is usually appropriate, but the second meeting can vary in length relative to the student's actual need. In this second meeting, our focus is on word-smithing to achieve the maximum impact in the smallest amount of space. We'll aim to help you engineer a 1 page letter that contains more detail than a version three times its length, yet has better flow and potency. The focus is on condensing potent arguments with minimal loss of detail, allowing you to squeeze as many wow factors as is effectively possible into your allotted space. Then, we'll polish. When we’re done, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll know that you’re submitting the absolute strongest case you can make.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you. We are committed to keeping your dream alive. Additionally, your USC letter can be re-used for most other colleges that accept appeals and waitlist letters. It just needs to be adjusted to fit each college's word limit.


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