USC WBB Success Story
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By Tobias Joel

Since childhood, he had watched his aunt create her own business. At first, he saw only her physical efforts: the long hours; the constant note-taking and brainstorming. The student was impressed by her dedication. But later, when he became old enough to tag along on business trips, he noticed another side of her hard-work: she respected people. The student watcher her mingle with business partners at trade shows, exchange greetings with hotel staff, and invite clients to dinner. In every interaction, Auntie brought the same respect and attention. She never had a hidden agenda. She was honest and it helped her grow her business into a globally-active company.

This strong impression stayed with the student. When it came time to select a college, he knew it had to be USC’s World Bachelor in Business program (WBB). The program is uniquely designed for globally-minded students who value intercultural exchange. The WBB curriculum is split between 3 campuses, with students studying at USC’s main campus, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, as well as at Bocconi University (Italy). The goal is to prepare students with context-driven training in the economics, law, and cross-cultural awareness that power global business today.

The only problem?: USC’s WBB selects only 45 students a year. That represents 0.55% of USC’s accepted applicants, who themselves make up only 12.9% of applications received. To be fair, not all USC applicants apply for the World Bachelor in Business. But even at a glance, these numbers show that getting into the WBB is difficult for any student.

To create this competitiveness, the WBB involves four additional essays beyond USC’s existing supplementary prompts. WBB applicants are also required to complete a rigorous online interview. At this level, grades and test scores are not the only barriers to entry. Students are expected to be engaged citizens who are thinking about broader global questions. This is a deciding factor, but also a highly subjective factor. It means that no student can be certain about admission to WBB. Even with the best grades, students need just the right blend of characteristics to get in.

And, it turns out, this student did not get in. He was not admitted to the WBB program, but his campus visit, supplementary interview, and sincere essays did not go unnoticed. Instead, he was offered a place in USC’s Marshall School of Business to study Business Administration.

He couldn’t have been happier. On its own, the Marshall School is difficult to reach, and has an impressive portfolio of business programs. And in fact, the process of redirecting from the original plan became a lesson in resilience, a crucial quality of global business people. Being based at USC’s home campus has its own benefits, such as more opportunities to enter student government or conduct long-term research. The success here was a success of bravery to pursue a challenge, and then bravery to accept a change of plans. It was a honor to work with this student and I look forward to working with more aspiring scholars moving forward.