What Does It Take to Get into the University of San Diego?
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The University of San Diego accepts 58% of applicants. What does it take to get in?
Located in gorgeous San Diego, the University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic university that combines the intellectual freedom of liberal arts colleges with a commitment to diversity and inclusivity. It boasts having one of the most beautiful campuses according to Princeton Review, but it’s not all about looks: it also has top-ranked business and engineering programs and provides plenty of interdisciplinary opportunities for students to think outside the box.
The University of San Diego is the perfect school for any student who wants a small college feel with access to an urban social life and incredible outdoor activities. Keep reading to learn more about the tips that have helped CollegeVine’s students get into the school that’s perfect for them.
Applying to the University of San Diego: A Quick Review
Students may apply for the Spring or the Fall semesters. Apply by October 1 to be considered for Spring admissions; apply by December 15 to be considered for Fall admissions.
To apply, be sure to send in all of the following:
- A complete application via the Common App
- An essay responding to one of the Common App prompts and two short-answers to USD member prompts
- One academic recommendation, from either a counselor or teacher
- SAT or ACT scores
- An official high school transcript
- $55 application fee or fee waiver
For international students: If English is not your first language, you’ll need to demonstrate your proficiency through a TOEFL score of 80 or IELTS score of 6.5.
University of San Diego Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?
Last year, the University of San Diego’s acceptance rate was 52.9%. USD received 13,287 applications last year and admitted 7,031 students. Of those, 1,310 students actually enrolled, making it similarly selective to schools like the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia.
While there’s a good chance you’ll be admitted, you should still take the application process seriously and make sure that every part of your application is as strong as possible. One way to increase your chances is to get help from people who have been through the process before, such as current students, alumni, or working with a company like CollegeVine. Connecting with someone who has successfully gained admission to a school like USD can make the difference between rejection and acceptance.
So, How Does One Get Into the University of San Diego?
The University of San Diego uses a holistic review process to select dedicated students who will thrive on its campus. Use your application to highlight your strengths in the following areas.
Academics. To give you an idea of what to aim for, the middle 50% of incoming freshman had a weighted GPAs between 3.75 and 4.19, earned SAT scores between 1210 and 1350, and ACT scores between 27 and 31. However, they also take into account the rigor of your classes, including AP, IB, or dual enrollment.
Extracurriculars. USD doesn’t care what activities you were involved in throughout high school, but they do want to see that you pursued something you were interested in with passion and excellence. This could mean taking a leadership position at your school, starting a new organization or initiative, or being recognized for your talents through awards. Whatever you do, show why those activities were meaningful to you and how you went above and beyond in following them.
Character. It’s important that you give the USD admissions officers insight into who you are and what your strengths are. Write a compelling essay that focuses on an accomplishment or strength that you are proud of, and choose a recommender who can highlight strengths beyond what you could cover in your essay alone.
Contribution to Community. USD is explicitly looking for students who will engage with their community, especially since they are a faith-based institution. Show how your strengths and experiences will enrich the student body and how you’ll engage with the campus and the surrounding community. You can highlight how you’ve contributed to communities in the past through service or leadership.
How to Make Your Application Stand Out
Every application is different, but over the years we’ve seen these strategies give our clients applications that are three times more likely to gain favorable admissions results.
Tell your story. The University of San Diego wants to know that you’ll thrive in a faith-based environment, and they give a lot of weight to your essay, short responses, extracurriculars, and the letter of recommendation. Whatever you don’t include in your application, they won’t know about, so make sure you highlight your strengths, your values, and your passion throughout your application.
Partner with recommenders. Most students choose a recommender and let the recommender do all the work, but you need to make sure that every piece of your application is strong. Brainstorm ideas of what to include or emphasize in your letter with your recommender, and let them read drafts of your essays. Give them all the help they need to make their letters flow with the rest of your application.
Enhance the themes of your completed application. A seasoned admissions counselor will review your entire application in about nine minutes and evaluate it. If you want them to remember something positive about you, then you’ll need to mention it throughout your application, not just once and hope that they remember.
Try this strategy—finish your application at least a week early and leave it alone for a few days. When you return to it, read the whole application in nine minutes. What stood out to you? What wasn’t clear or could be improved on? Then make those improvements.
What If You Get Rejected?
The University of San Diego receives applications from more qualified applicants than they can accept. If you find yourself facing a no-thank-you at the end of the admissions process, don’t be too hard on yourself. Bright, motivated, resourceful students will find success, or create it, anywhere they go.
Although USD does accept admissions appeals, we strongly recommend against it. In order to appeal an admissions decision, you’ll need to supply new information to the admissions office, such as updated test scores or corrections to an erroneous transcript. Even still, there’s no guarantee that a decision will be reversed.
You are eligible to apply for transfer after you have completed at least one full year of college elsewhere, and have earned at least a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The application process is virtually identical to the first-year process, with some notable changes such as getting a recommendation from a college faculty or staff member, and your odds are similar to applying as a first-year—about 49% of transfer students are admitted.
You can reapply after taking a gap year, but this path is riskier than simply committing to another school and requesting to take a gap year there. To see if a gap year is right for you, visit our posts, What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.
By far, we recommend looking at another great school and making the most of your time there. Consider applying for other California schools such as one of the California State schools or University of California schools. For advice on adjusting to a different college path, check out our post Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.
Curious about your chances of acceptance to the University of San Diego? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!
Check out some of our other posts for ways to make your application stand out: