The University of Southern California is mostly known for its cinema school, football, the school’s rivalry with UCLA, its famous alumni, its infamous alumni, alumni connections, proximity to Hollywood, its communications school, overall athletic achievements, and for being in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
Here are some of my impressions of USC(after attending for almost four years):
- USC is neither a small school nor large school, but sits right in the middle. The campus is definitely composed of more than just a handful of buildings, but it is possible to get from one end of the campus to the other in ten minutes. There are about 40,000 students total enrolled in USC, with 20,000 of those students being undergraduates. The class size can depend on your major, but the class sizes usually start around thirty five and can go up to two hundred. I have had as small as ten students in a writing class while over three hundred students signed up for the Star Wars lecture class.
- Athletics are a big deal at SC. If you enjoy student athletics, or are a student athlete looking to go pro, then USC is a good school for you. USC likes to show off the number of Rose Bowls and Conference Championships the school has won, as well as the number of students that have gone on to be successful professional athletes and Olympic medalists.
- USC regularly tops the list of best Cinema Schools in the world, and for very good reasons. When you have two buildings side-by-side named after very famous filmmakers(Spielberg and Lucas), then you get to be named number one. Not only do famous filmmakers donate a lot of money to the school, have buildings named after them, classes dedicated to them, and visit the campus regularly, but they also like to hire from USC. The cinema school also provides excellent resources for film classes and career resources. Plus people who work in the industry regularly use the campus for filming and visit classes for Q&A sessions. For example I am currently taking a critical studies course on the films of Steven Spielberg, who will be visiting the class sometime this semester.
- USC also has one of the top communication schools in the United States. USC recently opened the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center which features state-of-the-art media equipment for future journalists.
- USC has definitely earned one of its many nicknames, the University of Sustained Construction. USC loves to put up new buildings and revamp existing ones. As many alumni truly love USC, they show this love by donating lots of money for new buildings. USC recently opened the USC village, which includes four or five new dorms and space for a Trader Joe’s, Target, and many restaurants(this is especially a big deal for a city school). While construction can be annoying anywhere, USC’s sustained construction at least allows for new and updated buildings for students. I am now so spoiled that I complain about having classes in buildings that were not built or updated within the last five years.
- USC also has a second, not as favorable, nickname, the University of Spoiled Children. I can contest to this nickname on my own behalf, as I am definitely not a spoiled child(maybe with love but not with money). I would not be able to attend USC without my scholarship, although the issue of college affordability is not just USC’s issues. I think USC gets this nickname mostly from the children of celebrities that like to attend USC, the pictures of USC students at Coachella, and the costs associated with attending any school in Los Angeles.
- The sororities and fraternities on USC’s greek row is what all TV shows and movies use as models(which can be both good and bad if you know what I mean).
- USC gets bad press from its location in downtown Los Angeles, but from the many college campuses I have visited USC is one of the safest. Downtown LA can definitely have its good and bad parts but I would just compare it to New York City and Chicago. USC students do not fear stepping out of their apartments, but the surrounding city definitely looks a little different than small, traditional college towns. USC closes its gates to non-students at about 9pm every night, and there is a network of safety precautions put in place for students.
- USC is very strict about its acceptance of AP class credits and transfer credits. USC really wants its students to complete their General Education requirements with the university, which means many of your AP credits might not be accepted as easily as they would be at other colleges. I would also warn transfer students to double check exactly what credits USC will accept from other schools, as many transfer students accidentally ended up on the extended plan.
- If you have a car, you can access a lot of great places near USC. Los Angeles does not have the best public transportation system, but if you have a car you can access many places in LA from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills within thirty to forty minutes (depending on traffic of course). USC is a very car friendly school, as you can have a car starting freshman year and there is plenty of parking.
- USC offers a lot of great career opportunities. Between alumni connections, on campus career resources, and proximity to a major city, USC is really a great school for internship and career opportunities, from film and engineering to business and academia.
- USC is really into the red brick thing(maybe a little too much).
- USC really wants to compete academically. Besides the media related schools(cinema and communications), USC also has some other top rated schools and wants to continue to improve them. When attending a private school like USC, you know they have the means to attract top professors as well.
- USC is a great school to attend if you want to mix unique majors and minors. After attending multiple college tours, I realized that some colleges are more strict on majors than others as some colleges do not even encourage students to take up minors from other schools within the university (such as a engineering major with a minor in philosophy). USC really encourages students to take up double majors and minors, and to even pair unique things together.