Torn Between Northwestern and USC

I’d also add that NU football attendance is likely largely driven by who NU is playing, for example, Michigan, Wisconsin or Ohio State.

USC students are eligible for free entry to most USC athletics’ games, except football. That’s the same for Northwestern! It’s free to attend Stanford’s games too, excluding football. NU did give away free tickets for the Big Ten title game. That’s NU being generous! The attendance for NU basketball program has dropped the last couple years as the program struggled. Duke and Vanderbilt’s football attendance was around 25,000 but Duke’s basketball attendance was much better. Attendance is a strong function of the program’s performance; that’s typical of small private elite schools, not just Northwestern, especially when it’s next to a big city with plenty to do. Pretty sure students at schools like Brown or WashU care even less about athletics. The OP never even mentioned athletics; she mentioned all the big city amenities!

1 Like

Why in the world are we talking sports. Is that really what the OP is asking about?


I’ve been to both campuses. If school spirit is any factor in the OP’s decision, then USC has that in spades over NU. And it’s not close. And school spirit is partially derived by a successful athletics program.

1 Like

When that saying about free tickets no longer works, you brought up campus visit. I lived in LA before and I’ve been to USC campus a few times. As an outsider walking around the campus, I couldn’t quantify its school spirit, let alone telling the significant difference you claimed. Kudos to you for your sixth sense.

A vote for pragmatic reasoning and NU.

1 Like

I’ll address “free tickets,” if I must waste space and time of everyone reading the thread here.

Tickets are given away free to students attending “small private elite” schools, because generally, they’re teams are terrible. Sure, occasionally, they’ll have a good year, but overall they’re major sports are a bad product most years, like NU basketball for example.

Besides baseball, Vandy is bad. Besides basketball, Duke is bad. Besides the Jim Harbaugh era and men’s and women’s soccer, Stanford is bad. The “small private elite” school giving away tickets and being called “generous” is delusional thinking on your part. The first rule of the business of sports is that fans don’t show up to watch bad teams. So you give away the tickets for free, when the product is bad. No one wants an empty stadium in B1G. Schools have obligations to the league and TV networks.

If a school can find a way to make money they would. Generous? Hilarious. Why doesn’t NU, Stanford, Vandy, Duke, etc. offer a “no fee” freshman app? Because they can make money.

Big state schools, say like Michigan, where nearly every football game has nearly 112,000 fans, where Michigan men just had won the regular season B1G basketball title, a #1 seed, and went to the Elite 8, where the women’s b-ball team had a great NCAA tourney run, where the Michigan women’s gymnastics team just won a national title a few days ago, where the Michigan men’s hockey went to the NCAA tourney, etc.

Michigan charges students around $515 for season tickets to football, basketball and hockey. Why? To make money, because they can with a great product.

As for USC, I kinda doubt you were ever on campus, because every time I was there, students and other people who I didn’t know were always greeting each other and me with the words “Fight On.” It was annoying and one of the reasons, I’m not a big USC fan.

Back to my original point, in terms of school spirit, if that’s a factor for the OP, USC by a mile. I’m done here, my apologies to the OP for the tangent. I made my point and I’m moving on.

The OP never mentioned athletics or school spirit defined by tailgating or battle cry in her/his long post. None of the top-15 schools have a catchy battle cry but that doesn’t mean they don’t have school spirit. On the other hand, just because students at big state schools have battle cries and large football culture doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a strong sense of community or belonging there. I would suggest you not to have such a narrow view of what defines “school spirit” and what not. By the way, please don’t accuse me of lying just because I don’t share your view. Like I said, I just don’t put that much stock on a catchy phrase.

You missed my point about free ticket. You falsely claimed that USC doesn’t give away free tickets like NU does. But USC athletics are mostly free for students, except football. So USC is no different from NU in this regard. When I said NU being generous, I was referring to NU providing undergrads tickets and travel to Big Ten title game even though its allotment was sold out within 48 hours.


Please do not devolve into debate.


@oxfordcommalover Could you share where you ended up attending? Happy with your choice so far? Lots of students and parents want to know! Thanks.

1 Like


Currently writing this from my dorm room at Northwestern – I absolutely love it here, and I think I definitely made the right choice. Going back through the thread, I think some of the things that were brought up as downsides to Northwestern are still valid; we’re certainly less of a sports school than virtually everyone else in the Big 10, and clubs here can, admittedly, be pretty difficult to get into, among other things. Still, people who care more about sports more than the average NU student won’t have much trouble finding people to go to games with, and (provided you put yourself out there), pretty much everybody seems to have been able to get into clubs that they wanted to be a part of.

I think I definitely could have been happy at USC – admittedly, I think it’s entirely possible that some alternate-reality version of myself is currently writing just as gleaming a review of USC as I am of NU – but I feel like coming to Northwestern was probably the better decision for me. I think I let myself get so bogged down by the stereotypical image I had gotten of what life at Northwestern was like that I was sort of drowning in perpetual anxieties about finding my crowd here, and it turned out to really not be an issue at all. Classes are great, the people are great, and Chicago/Evanston (at least outside of the winter months) are great.

I don’t want to make this response too long/incoherent, so I’ll cut myself off here – but I’m more than happy to answer any other questions you might have. Hope this was helpful!


I am so glad you ended up loving your choice. All the Wildcats around me loved their time in Evanston - they had their gripes about the snow, but it’s a given.

Both NU and USC are on our kiddo’s list, hence my question. We are considering Vandy and Georgetown as well, and might add a few public schools (applying to public ones out-of-state is a mental challenge, but unfortunately the in-state one is not ideal). Finding a true safety is tough!

I’d be interested in learning what other schools you considered during your selection process. I will PM you.

Thanks and congrats again!

1 Like