“My thumb trembled as I clicked the “there has been an update to your application” button.”

My USC Story: first-year student

USC Marshall School of Business Freshman McKean Farnell with his survival pack he hopes to bring to market after obtaining a USC degree, poses for a photograph outside on the steps of the Bovard building.
USC Marshall School of Business Freshman McKean Farnell with his survival pack he hopes to bring to market after obtaining a USC degree, poses for a photograph, September 5, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Gus Ruelas)

McKean Farnell, an incoming business major at the USC Marshall School of Business from Portland OR, joins the Class of 2023 having already started a company with fellow USC freshman, Stuart Diffely, making emergency backpacks for the impending “Big One” throughout the west coast.

What did you do when you first found out you got into USC?

USC began updating student portals at the beginning of my spring break. My family decided we would go on a week-long cruise on which there would be no service. Impeccable timing, really. The ship began pulling away from port when a close friend of mine sent in a group chat that he had gotten into USC. As my cellular data waned, I grabbed my phone, found the nearest chair, and scrambled on to USC’s application website.

Of course, my password was saved only on my computer. I watched as two cellular bars faded to one. We were about a mile off coast now. I had to use the backdoor and reset my password with a temporary pin. With this done, I had finally made it inside the portal. My thumb trembled as I clicked the “there has been an update to your application” button.

I had only read the letters “congr” before collapsing from the tremendous emotional pressure I had placed on myself the past several months, all of which had mounted in those last awfully suspenseful moments. I used the last of my cellular service to make a call to my parents who were elsewhere on the ship. I was for the first time in my life speechless, and I couldn’t get much out to my parents besides sobs with the occasional “I” and “SC”.

My parents, hearing me emotional like this for the first time, were halfway to the hospital onboard because they legitimately thought one of my little sisters had fallen overboard into the “SC”. I finally mustered the sentence “I got into USC” which prompted both a physical and emotional 180-degree turn from the parents. Soon, the whole family greeted me on deck 8. The scene was electric: hugs and congratulations were exchanged with smiles bigger than I had ever seen. As the adrenaline wore off and the scene slowed down, I sat back in that near chair, turned my cellular data off, and smiled at the sunset. It was the best day of my life. 

Read more stories here!