Junior Gwen Strasberg accepted into USC Resident Honors Program, intends to forgo senior year


Photo credit: Grace Dieveney

Gwen Strasberg ’18 holds the University of Southern California pennant during Archer’s National College Decision Day celebration. May 1 marks the national deadline for in-coming college students to finalize their decisions.

For the first time in Archer history, a junior will be skipping her senior year to attend a four-year college a year early, according to Co-Director of College Guidance Gabrielle Dorsey.

In the fall of 2018, Junior Gwen Strasberg will forgo her senior year to attend the University of Southern California under their Resident Honors Program that accepts 15 to 20 high school juniors annually.

Strasberg discovered the program after touring USC last summer.

“I kind of found the program by accident,” Strasberg said. “I toured USC over the summer. I really really liked the campus and all the spirit, so I decided to do some research on the school. I looked into some of their honors programs. [The Resident Honors Program] just popped up. When [I read] their description of the student they were looking for, it clicked for me. I understood what they were talking about.”

After deciding to apply, she began the lengthy application, which consists of about 20 essays. Strasberg said that the application process was extremely hard for her, and she found the ACT — a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States — to be the hardest part. 

“I found out about this program in August and applications are due in December. That left me with basically one ACT test that I was able to take. The test felt very pointless, so I really struggled,” Strasberg said. “I pretty much went under the radar for about 10 weeks. I stayed home and studied and worked on my application. It was very quiet, and I didn’t really talk about it. Only my very close friends knew [that I applied].” 

As Strasberg prepares for a new chapter in her life, she said she is both excited and nervous about the new opportunities.

“I am really nervous. I am nervous for the new classes and going to school with boys. But I am pretty confident because Archer has done a great job preparing me, and I am pretty secure in the classroom and outside,” she said. “It will be really interesting to see how it compares.”

While Strasberg is “excited” about this new opportunity, she will most likely not receive a high school diploma. 

“Right now, I am not sure that I will be graduating. Archer has been very supportive, but, obviously, there are graduation requirements,” Strasberg said. “But I am not required to have a diploma for this program, so I’m not sure if I will be graduating [from Archer] — most likely not.” 

Photo by Cybele Zhang
Mudd Hall, the home to the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ School of Philosophy, is one of the most recognizable buildings on USC’s campus. Strasberg will join USC’s Class of 2022.

In order to earn a high school degree, Strasberg would have to take the California High School Equivalency Exam.

“[The exam] is kind of comparable to the GED [test],” Strasberg said. “As of now, I kind of get made fun of by family because technically I will be a high school dropout.”

On Tuesday, May 1, Strasberg participated in National College Decision Day and hung her pennant alongside the graduating seniors.

One of her close friends, Siena Mills ’19, was there to show support for Strasberg.

“I’m so excited for her,” Mills said. “I am going to miss her, but I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that she can’t pass up.”