USC reality show, concerns about reputation

<p>My nephew has been accepted to USC and is a candidate for a scholarship. His father read this article online and asked for my opinion. We are in CA, he is out of state. I have done more research on UC than private schools, but always thought USC was "up there" academically considering its US News ranking. I wasn't aware that it wasn't always considered a rigorous school. This article (haven't watched the web show) makes it sound like they are still struggling with a party image. My nephew will most likely have many options when decision time rolls around, so this has been a bit upsetting to them. Any parents of recent graduates or current students can comment on the issue?</p>

<p>USC</a> reels from 'Hangover'-style Web reality series - latimes.com</p>

<p>"Based on the promo, the show depicts a "senior year bucket list" that includes a young woman painting her body in Trojan colors and going to a football game, young men chasing after women and, in one scene, chugging vodka from a bottle. It also includes grainy, night-vision shots of police shutting down parties.</p>

<p>This is all happening at a school that for years has attempted to move away from a perception of being the so-called "University of Spoiled Children" — a culture centered around a hard-partying Greek system where wealthy young people lead a pampered existence. Greek life, however, remains prominent at the school.</p>

<p>In the last year, eyebrow-raising incidents have occurred. Photos were posted online of students having sex atop a campus building, and an email sent by fraternity members using crudely explicit terms to rate women went viral.</p>

<p>Such episodes have come amid a decades-long investment to build up the university's reputation as a world-class research institution.</p>

<p>And, by many measures, the school has undergone a notable shift, with an investment to attract stronger faculty, more research dollars and an increasingly diverse student body, higher education experts say.</p>

<p>"It's a very strong university, and it's clearly gotten quite a bit stronger over the past 15, 20 years," said Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the Assn. of American Universities.</p>

<p>In 2010, for the first time since U.S. News & World Report began its annual top college rankings, USC narrowly beat out UCLA (tying with Carnegie Mellon) for 23rd place. This year's admitted freshmen had, on average, a GPA of 3.80.</p>

<p>And for the 10th year in a row, USC enrolled more international students than any other school in the country.</p>

<p>So a show centered on coed hijinks has rankled many on campus."</p>

<p>
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I wasn't aware that it wasn't always considered a rigorous school.

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</p>

<p>It was always considered a "good" school, but definitely not "rigorous" until the last decade or so. </p>

<p>
[quote]
a school that for years has attempted to move away from a perception of being the so-called "University of Spoiled Children" — a culture centered around a hard-partying Greek system where wealthy young people lead a pampered existence.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>This is exactly how it was known when I was in college in the 70s.</p>

<p>In my house we are awaiting a USC admission decision. </p>

<p>Looked at the link. Ugh :(</p>

<p>underthesun you should post this on the USC forum.</p>

<p>I'm not sure how fair the web show is, the article says the episodes are "scripted", so I wonder how much of it is really true. It does seem to be the case that greek life is dominant on campus, maybe because the surrounding area is not so good so the kids need to create their own fun on campus. I wondered why Franco chose to pick on USC until I looked him up on Wikipedia and see that he is a UCLA alum.</p>

<p>oh please.
Under the sun and snowdog
USC is a very different U than even 10 years ago.
Less than 17% of students join frats or sororities.
It is NOT the case that "greek life is dominant on campus".This is an old wives tale at this point.
DS, who was accepted at many top U's, including 2 Ivys, Chicago, Wash U, Pomona, etc, etc, chose to go to USC and has not regretted it for one moment. And no, neither he nor any of his friends there joined frats or even associated with kids in frats.
He received a great education at USC, graduated last year and is now at Caltech in a PhD program.
His former roommate is a Churchill Scholar at Oxford.
The other roommate is now at MIT.
The valedictorian is at Harvard Med School.
There are MORE National Merit Scholars at USC than at any other U except U of Chicago[ which enrolled 1 more] . Even more than HARVARD. </p>

<p>the USC / UCLA rivalry is alive and well as this immature video shows.
Your nephew should visit USC during one of the Explore events to see what USC is REALLY like. And as for this statement-
"maybe because the surrounding area is not so good "
the same can be and is said about U of Chicago and New Haven.
Like Chicago and Yale, there is a sketchy area south/ east of campus , but most of USC's campus is surrounded by apts full of students.</p>

<p>In the 70s, yes, if Daddy could write the check and you were a decent student you could attend was the reputation in SoCal.</p>

<p>10 years ago when my DD applied we did some research and USC had really come up in the academic rankings, it is vastly more respectable now than it was then. If your nephew plans to remain in SoCal, the Alumni network is tough to beat.</p>

<p>We have seen some excellent students denied admission.</p>

<p>You can find 5-10 students willing to do anything to be on TV at almost any school. Like previous posters said, this is part scripted, part "reality". However, having visited USC numerous times over the past two years and with D a current freshman, I am not at all concerned with someone else's "party image" tv show. I know what is real--- a challenging, exciting, exuberant campus with incredibly ambitious students.</p>

<p>From what I saw while visiting the campus on business last year the diversity seems to stem from the southeast asian students they bring in to fill up the engineering school while the rest of the student body I saw walking around would mostly fit into the "bro" stereotype.</p>

<p>60% of USC UG students are not white, and since no where near 60% of the student population is in the engineering program, I think you might have missed a lot of students who either were in class, labs, or off campus.</p>

<p>
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DS, who was accepted at many top U's, including 2 Ivys, Chicago, Wash U, Pomona, etc, etc, chose to go to USC

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</p>

<p>USC has been providing generous merit awards for years to attract talented students.
It is a very widely known fact among top students in California because it has to compete with nearby UCLA which offers instate tuition.</p>

<p>In addition, they have also recruited talented faculties recently, so I think its academic quality has improved in the past 5-10 years.</p>

<p>However, without generous merit awards or FA, I would not pay full fare to go there.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Less than 17% of students join frats or sororities.
It is NOT the case that "greek life is dominant on campus".This is an old wives tale at this point.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>This may be true, but I want to point out that 17% of a student body of 17,380 students is nearly 3,000 students who are Greek. That's a lot of Greeks, and USC may still be the largest Greek campus on the West Coast.</p>

<p>U Washington has a large and very active Greek group.</p>

<p>Of course a reality show about college kids is going to find the partiers. How much of an audience would they attract by showing smart, accomplished kids studying in the library, working hard on projects, doing community service, participating in intramural sports and other worthwhile activities? </p>

<p>When D1 was accepted to USC, we made a visit and were quite impressed with the campus, facilities, alum network, etc. Six girls from D1's class of 122 attended, all of them very smart; most of them turned down other quite prestigious schools in order to go there. My impression was that while the area was once considered a really bad one, they have worked very hard to clean up that area, so it is much improved.</p>

<p>I think your nephew would have to decide if the school culture is right for him. My son was offered a half tuition scholarship at USC and was 99% sure he was going to attend there. Then he spent 2 days on campus, going to as many computer science classes as he could, and realized that for what he was looking for, it just wasn't rigorous enough. And he didn't get the sense that the engineering students he met were as bright or as focused as the kids he had met at Cal. In the end, he chose Cal instead, which was a better fit for his personality. But for the right kids, USC sounds like a lot of fun.</p>

<p>Parent of a USC senior here.</p>

<p>USC has exceeded every expectation, offered amazing opportunities in research (starting with a USC-paid research trip overseas the summer after her freshman year) and travel (she has visited over a dozen countries through USC programs), provided her an education through the Thematic Option honors program that is the equal of any, and a network that gave her two amazing internships and has already resulted in multiple job offers with graduation still months away.</p>

<p>If your nephew is upset by an online video, he should feel free to choose a school where he feels more secure. I am certain another of the over 45,000 freshmen applicants will be quite happy to take his place. Or he could go to USC Explore and meet the amazing students of USC who are leading USC's rise in the rankings.</p>

<p>Fight on.</p>

<p>My kids are both very happy they attended USC. S got his EE degree & 3 job offers by Feb of his SR year, all in his field & all highly desirable. He had good internships in each year he sought them as well as campus research opportunities & also co-authored several papers in his field and also in geology (due to rockclimbing interest he developed at USC). He found his peers to be very interesting. He is NOT a partier & had no problems finding people to do things with. He started a rockclimbing club & was able to get student activity funds to buy equipment.</p>

<p>D is a cinema major & has also had OUTSTANDING opportunities. She and we have no regrets as she would NOT have had the opportunities she has had anywhere else.</p>

<p>Similarly, she is NOT a partier and has had no problems having a great & very interesting time in college. She was in fencing for a while & enjoyed it--was pleased that USC provided most of the equipment at no additional charge. </p>

<p>Both kids have met LOTS of great people who are very bright and interesting. They both believe they have made many lifelong friends at USC and have been extremely happy there.</p>

<p>Both kids know very strong students who were accepted at other Us, including UPenn, Boston U and many others while being rejected from USC. It is EXTREMELY competitive to gain admission and even moreso to also get merit aid.</p>

<p>The year my S matriculated, about 15% of his graduating class also matriculated there. Most were NMFs (there are MANY NMFs there because of generous merit awards).</p>

<p>I'm a USC alum, non-greek, non-partier. I haven't seen any of this show. But I imagine that if you take several hundred hours of video footage, you can tell pretty much any story you want in an hour long episode via creative editing.</p>

<p>USC is extremely diverse. Approximately 46% of the latest incoming freshman class were domestic (non-international) students who identified as something other than Caucasian.</p>

<p>It's not entirely right to lump all the greek-affiliated students together, either. There are some who are partiers, and there are some who are academic. Typically the GPA of students in fraternities and sororities is equal or slightly higher than the average undergraduate GPA.</p>

<p>Plus, USC is a soft target because of the (well deserved, I will readily admit) reputation from its past. But I do not think that is valid now and shows like this just reinforce people's misconceptions. </p>

<p>And I don't like that because it doesn't tell the story of my experience and valuable education at USC.</p>

<p>Thanks to everyone for their perspective, I've sent the discussion link to my brother-in-law. The kids seem to be much less concerned about the web show and "image" than the adults.</p>

<p>I think you can see wild & raunchy stuff if you look around many/most college campuses. There are a TON of very bright, motivated kids at USC as well who avail themselves of the amazing opportunities. Definitely, there is considerable variety on campus!</p>

<p>Underthesun: I wouldn't let a video freak you out.</p>