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Review of USC

haydenhayden Posts: 3,544Registered User Senior Member
edited August 2010 in Parents Forum
This was posted elsewhere, and it was suggested it be added here, so:

We visited USC last week, and our D loved it as much as she expected to; unfortunately H and I loved it too. It's too far away from us for us to be comfortable, but I have to admit that for the right student, it's definitely the right school.

First, the location: we expected the campus to have a more urban feel, but it didn't. It's a completely contained, fenced in campus with no public streets. Absolutely beautiful campus, well landscaped. I liked their use of different looks; i.e., not the same trees or flowers, but rather an abundance of different plants so that each area had an integrated architectural look, but each area had its own color scheme and "look". It was like Boston College, in that the architecture all fit together in an integrated appearance overall, only with a southern californian style.

We simply did not realize a city was close, much less that it surrounded us. Then you get to the fence, and the city reappears.

We attended the admitted students' day, and overheard this from another family sitting nearby, after the day had ended: "We just did the admitted students' thing at UCLA. At UCLA they kept telling us that you're not a number at UCLA, but they treated us like we were. Not once did USC mention that, and we felt it was personal all the way - they don't talk about personal attention, they just give it."

I can't speak to UCLA at all, but we agreed that USC definitely has a personal feel. During the tour of the specific school, the person who walked us through had obviously reviewed the applications of each of the students on the tour (we had to reserve in advance), as once she was introduced, she called the students by name and seemed to know about them. Impressive homework. (And another example of USC's personal touch.)

Students on campus and administrators were all very friendly and helpful. The clerk in the bookstore went out of his way to help us hide the USC stuff we bought, with D standing nearby. Everyone seemed very personal. Probably our biggest and nicest surprise.

We had lunch in the big room, when the band suddenly came in playing the USC fight song - Now, that was fantastic. Wow, what an experience. For someone who had never experienced the Trojan thing, even I was blown away. The band was not just playing music - they were performing it. Their enthusiasm and energy was catching.

I do not understand why they have a statue to a dog eating a tire. Next visit, I vow to find that out. . . . [Note: since I wrote this, I have found out about the dog statue]

This was really important: USC appears (to someone who has seen many, many colleges now) to steer away from emphasizing any one school within the university. For example, NYU, where CAS and Steinhardt are clearly not at the level of Tisch and Stern, spends a lot of time simply referring to Stern and Tisch. At UMichigan (Ann Arbor), the campus is completed divided (Fine Arts, Music & Engineering are a significant commute away from central campus).

On the other hand, USC has different schools. But they don't speak predominantly about "CNTV" or "Marshall". They talk more about "USC". We liked that.

We found out that the only place you can buy a more expensive sweatshirt than in the USC bookstore, is if you bought the sweatshirt at Tiffany's, and it came with a diamond necklace.

USC admissions statistics seem to be high, and climbing (although it seems to me this is true of most top 2 tiers these days). They just got a $23 million gift for the School of Fine Arts. CNTV (Cinema and TV) is either #1 or at worst, #2 in the world. Viterbi engineering is extremely well regarded (in top 10 in the country). Marshall, the business school, is very strong. The "College", as they call their school of arts and letters, is strong.

One very important feature is that USC encourages students to major/minor across schools. Definitely not like Penn with Wharton, or NYU with Stern and Tisch, for example, where non-Tisch people are not encouraged to minor in Tisch. USC even has special scholarships for students who excel in two or more normally unrelated fields. This was really important to our D, who had trouble deciding between two majors that were located in 2 different schools.

So D loved the school. We mailed the enrollment deposit (gulp) today.
Post edited by hayden on
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Replies to: Review of USC

  • liek0806liek0806 Posts: 3,316Registered User Senior Member
  • papabearpapabear Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    Just want to echo the good 'vibes' from USC - I've had two children go through USC (my second is hopefully graduating in May). Can't say enough good things about the school. Big school with small school feel to it. Both my children have had excellent educations in very different fields of study. Both children have had excellent advising along the way, hand holding when they needed it and encouragement to be independent thinkers at every step. I'm extremely pleased. If anyone has any questions about the school, I am glad to try and answer them.
  • AceRockollaAceRockolla Posts: 672Registered User Member
    i love usc too.

    ill be going to notre dame in the fall though.
  • tsdadtsdad Posts: 4,032Registered User Senior Member
    Trojan Parent here, one of the originals on this board. I glad you were happy with SC. We have visited it five times, the most recent two weekends ago. The campus is beautiful, not in the Princeton or Duke gothic kind of way, but in its immaculate condition, compact nature, attractive gardens, and happy-looking students.

    My son is in his third year and has developed a circle of very close friends; takes part in a comedy troupe which was funded with student government money; had gotten great film internships and was paid to work on a real film last summer (he even got an IMDB listing out of it); was able to double major in history and then switch to a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies with no problem; has taken part in political activities; questioned Steven Spielberg in one of his film classes; worked hard; learned; and is growing into a fairly responsible (I'm still having difficulty in getting him to get the car serviced) adult.

    He was not the kind of kid that people (mistakenly) imagined would have gone USC. He had thrived there and it has worked out very well. We’re very pleased.
  • sjmom2329sjmom2329 Posts: 2,930Registered User Member
    One of my sisters graduated from USC and still has very warm feelings about the school. Living in California, I think that her connection with the school has helped in her business career.
  • proudtrojanproudtrojan Posts: 174. Junior Member
    Fight on! I love your review of USC! It is very accurate!
  • cheerscheers Posts: 5,163Registered User Senior Member
    Even though my DH is a graduate of their architecture school, I'd never actually visited the campus until our visit with S1 in 2003. I had the same impression, hayden--and I thought the staff--many of whom were Hispanic--added huge warmth and cultural interest to the place--which was chock-a-block with students of every ethnicity. Could have been me--but everyone seemed vested in the community spirit on that mild spring day. S2 skipped our 2003 walkabout and he visited on his own in 2006--where he was treated like a VIP.

    The leadership appears to be going from pillar to pillar. Neither of my sons ended up attending but they both wear the t-shirts and they both regret that missed opportunity.
  • jbuscjbusc Posts: 2,252Registered User Senior Member
    Congratulations! Sounds like you and your D are happy with her decision :)

    I remember when they installed the dog statue, I was rather confused about it for a while also - no one (among current students) really knew about the dog beforehand, but I guess the alumni group decided to remedy that :)
  • overseasoverseas Posts: 2,925Registered User Senior Member
    Fight On!...an alum :)
  • LindaCarmichaelLindaCarmichael Posts: 337Registered User Junior Member
    I went to USC and ,compared to other schools I attended, USC had it all over those places: customer service is fabulous! Professors regularly invited students to their homes for dinner or went out for lunch at one of the campus restaurants; and, if you take a class at night and are wary of walking back to the dorm or the parking structure, you can call for a security escort and they even have a K9 unit, too. It is truly a wonderful school. When I look back, that was the school where I learned what I have most retained and used.
  • haydenhayden Posts: 3,544Registered User Senior Member
    Surprising to see a year-old post brought to life. Now we are 13 months past when I wrote my review, and I thought I'd add a couple of thoughts.

    D has now finished her first year. USC was definitely (or, as she now says in Californian, "def") the right choice for her. The profs were all really impressive in their own fields, yet quite personal. One well-known artist found out she was interested in buying a bicycle but it was too early in the school year for her to be close enough to other kids to ask for them to give her a ride, so the professor spent several days e-mailing around til he found a student who could help her with transportation to get one.

    I asked her about the "u of spoiled children" tag. She says that she has friends who are minimum income, and some who are trust fund babies. But (perhaps because they share a similar passion for cinema and the arts?), they don't tend to view money as being such a dividing line. She says it's like body type - you may notice it, but it doesn't dictate who you're friends with.

    She says that one drawback is that if you don't have a car, you can feel a bit "housebound", in the sense that it's hard to get around LA. Most college people quickly throw in that there's so much to do on campus you don't notice it. But D says she did notice it, particularly in first semester. However, before the semester ended, she had a lot of friends who did have cars, so for the price of pitching in for gas, the problem went away.

    Worst part of USC for her is the on-campus food, which she felt needed improvement. Best part was everything else - she loved the academics, the people, the campus, the opportunities.
  • tsdadtsdad Posts: 4,032Registered User Senior Member
    Well, son graduated Friday. As usual USC did it up right. As we have come to expect the campus was immaculate. The general ceremonies were early in the morning at Alumni Park on campus. We got there at 6:30 AM to get good seats. Ted Koppel was the speaker. He was funny. He raked the administration over the coals for the war. Clint Eastwood also received an honorary degree.

    The schools and colleges had separate ceremonies later where the students got to walk across the stage. The speaker at the Cinematic Arts graduation was Will Wright, chief designer and co-founder of the Maxis software company (the Sims) http://cinema.usc.edu/about/news/commencement-celebration.htm, and like Clint Eastwood, who was designated the first honorary alumnus, not a college graduate. Eastwood received loud applause both at the general ceremony and the school's ceremony in the afternoon.

    Overall my son found the school too conservative for his tastes. Of course he would find most colleges too conservative. His problem was with some of his fellow students and the administration. He particularly was unhappy with the fraternities.

    My son was one of the 13 students who occupied President Sample's office in April (three-weeks before graduation, which really excited my wife and I) over the issue of worker exploitation. http://media.www.dailytrojan.com/media/storage/paper679/news/2007/04/11/News/Protesters.Relent.Under.Threat.Of.Suspension-2834302.shtml
    Good issue. Terrible timing. USC is a pretty bad actor on this matter and very far behind us here in Madison. We recently sent a high level administrator to inspect a factory in Central America.

    OTO, he made lots of friends and had great internships, and enjoyed many, if not all, of his professors.

    My son and a few film school friends have gotten an apartment in the Culver City section of LA, which is cheaper and definitely a step up from Exposition Park. Alas earning a film degree is not like getting one in engineering. The jobs don't come to you. We're going to carry him for six months and then he is on his own.
  • cheerscheers Posts: 5,163Registered User Senior Member
    I met and brainstormed with Will Wright and the Maxis team back in the early 90s. Cool guys. Cool office.

    Cannot believe your son graduated t. ZZZZZZZZIP. There goes that time.
  • tsdadtsdad Posts: 4,032Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks Cheers.

    I can still remember putting him on the bus many summers ago when he first went off to day camp as a very little boy. The time you have with your children goes much too quickly. I always say you raise them and then you let them go, but jeez it all comes so fast.
  • haydenhayden Posts: 3,544Registered User Senior Member
    congratulations, tsdad !! All the best. I read the link. Interesting. Although not sure I want to inquire about the kitty litter. That's a new one on me!

    Good luck to your S in the film industry. It may be tough to get jobs, but at least he pursued his dreams, instead of settling. Good for him.
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