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How is USC's School of Cinematic Arts different from the typical USC experience?

SaltyDoughnutSaltyDoughnut 2 replies2 threads New Member
This is a question from someone who is very interested in pursuing film, but who is not interested in many of the things that are generally and stereotypically attached to USC such as a large focus on Greek life and partying, a nickel-and-dime-y environment, and the vastness of it all that can lead to students being counted as merely a number.

1. How does the School of Cinematic Arts stand apart from the rest of USC?

2. Should someone who does not particularly like the other parts of USC, but is infatuated with film and its production consider USC's film programs?

3. How much do the different worlds bleed together?

4. Do USC's stereotypes apply to film students as well?

5. Does the School of Cinematic Arts feel like a smaller, more comforting environment as opposed to the larger USC in which students can potentially be lost as merely a number?

These questions are more targeted at the undergraduate experience, but graduate studies could be addressed as well.

Thanks
edited June 2013
14 replies
Post edited by SaltyDoughnut on
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Replies to: How is USC's School of Cinematic Arts different from the typical USC experience?

  • alamemomalamemom 6282 replies107 threads Senior Member
    someone who does not particularly like the other parts of USC
    To what "other parts" do you object? You mention Greek life and partying - are those the parts about which you are worried or is there something else to which you are referring? The vast majority of USC students (approximately 80%) are NOT in sororities or fraternities, and there is no requirement that you attend parties, so you are probably safe from those.
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  • SaltyDoughnutSaltyDoughnut 2 replies2 threads New Member
    To what "other parts" do you object?

    Well I suppose there seems to be an air of pre-professionalism existing there and a seeming lack of deep academic or intellectual interest, particularly in the fields of history, literature, and philosophy. So what I perceive to be a hole in those areas is one of the things that I object to.

    Large and potentially non-personal classes are another aspect that I believe exist at the school in a general sense but not singularly.
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  • vincehvinceh 2280 replies11 threads Senior Member
    I mean seriously, college is not high school. If you don't want to go to frats parties, don't.

    "Pursue film" how? Production? Screen writing? Parts of SCA are highly audition/portfolio dependent, assuming you're talented enough to get admitted, you'll be working with other equally or more talented classmates. There are few other schools, if any, that can match the caliber of film students at SC, grad or undergrad. Are you actually going to pass on SC because of some frat parties or tired stereotypes about 'spoiled children'?

    College is what you make of it not the other way around. If you want to dress in all black and pontificate on the wonders of Stieglitz and Eisenstein you'll find friends. If you want to make adventure films like Lucas or Spielberg you'll find friends. It's up to you.

    As for how 'comforting' an environment USC possesses, again, it's not high school. No one will hold your hand or tell you what to do. If you want to get to know your professors, seek them out. If you want to get involved in making films, then make them. But I'll warn you, from what I've seen and heard "comforting" is one of the last words I'd use to describe the film industry.
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  • SCHedgieSCHedgie 25 replies3 threads New Member
    Couldn't agree more with VinceH, spot on on all accounts.

    As for preprofessionalism vs academia....you're deluding yourself if you think the film industry is full of people who are "intellectually curious." You'll find the film students have a mindset of creating the best work they can, so they get picked up by, *gasp* a professional production/agency/film company.

    As for being counted as a number vs individual. Let me tell you right now, in the real world, you're just a number or statistic to most until you can prove your worth. Your worth to any school you are admitted to is:
    A) The scores/GPA that got you in and
    B) The money you pay them.
    C) The potential that you, the admitted student, will add value to the school through your contributions to community and the like

    If you think USC and other schools differ in that regard, think again. Nobody coddles you at SC, and (unless your parents have some deep pockets and are willing to coddle you after college) nobody will coddle you after you graduate. SC is what you make of it, so if you come here and complain about how partying and the greek system is ruining your experience, you're experience will probably be ruined.

    And finally, if you're not in love with the other parts of SC (which is just a tad prejudiced, but I'm not one to judge) chances are they aren't going to be in love with you either, and your mutual disdain will keep you relatively isolated from one another.
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  • LenciasLencias 190 replies17 threads Junior Member
    I agree with SCHedgie's "intellectually curious lol" note. Don't mix up "passionate about what you do" with "intellectually curious." There are a good number of people in the arts who are passionate about/talented at what they do but aren't necessarily intellectually curious/are very narrow-sighted otherwise, knowing/caring little about stuff outside their field of interest.

    That said, I like the handful of good friends I've made through SCA. Two of my best friends just graduated from SCA. Some really cool people, and I can't imagine any other university where the majority of my peers would be able to talk to me casually about video editing, game design, and screenwriting and such whenever - everyone "speaks the language," which certainly wasn't the case when I wanted to talk about filmmaking and such in HS.
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  • psydentpsydent 303 replies4 threads Member
    It seems like you're seeking people who share your passion, and you'll definitely find that at USC (as Lencias points out about speaking "the language"). One place, of several, is the film fraternity DKA (https://www.facebook.com/DeltaKappaAlpha) which is basically for people passionate about film and other visual media, such as games. And if that doesn't interest you there's still a handful of other orgs focused on film, so I'm sure you can find something you really like.
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  • madbeanmadbean 3156 replies85 threads Senior Member
    At USC, a student who qualifies can take the challenging honors track (TO) for all their GEs. If you're one of the 4% who are admitted to SCA, you'll be making films with the top creative students in the world. And at USC, you'll never get bored with the range of talented kids around you. Chances are you'll meet a composer to do your original soundtracks (Thornton) and a producer to raise $$ for your first film (Marshall). After you graduate, you'll need a wide range of friends, right? So, in addition to the books and discussions, perhaps a little less worry over stereotypes and a bit more adventure and acceptance that college is not like high school will give you the best sort of education.

    On another note. No one holds a student's hand in college--not even at the small LACs that tout their homey feel. But for all that, USC is large but it is not impersonal. You will get invitations, announcements, job openings, and reminders from your professors, TAs, department and the university almost hourly. But it is up to each student to take advantage of all the incredible academic opportunities, research, student films, literary competitions, clubs, ECs, professor's office hours, mentorships, advisors, film screenings, etc. that are on offer. Like other top private universities, this school actually offers too many amazing opportunities. It is an ideal choice for the sort of brilliant go-getter who grabs it all.
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  • alamemomalamemom 6282 replies107 threads Senior Member
    Well I suppose there seems to be an air of pre-professionalism existing there and a seeming lack of deep academic or intellectual interest, particularly in the fields of history, literature, and philosophy.
    USC has several pre-professional schools, but remember, the largest school at USC is Dornsife, and that is where you will find plenty of deep academic and intellectual interest in history, literature and philosophy. I agree with madbean that Thematic Option is a great option - the classes are small and discussion is central. Lamedaughter designed a "best of all worlds" program for herself by majoring in the humanities in Dornsife, taking Thematic Option for general education, and minoring in SCA (while taking 48 units in SCA - more than double the number required for a minor).
    madbean wrote:
    It is an ideal choice for the sort of brilliant go-getter who grabs it all.
    madbean pretty much sums it up!
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  • vincehvinceh 2280 replies11 threads Senior Member
    I'll admit it, there's something about the OP's post that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's his/her willingness to blindly buy into the tired stereotypes about USC while promoting his/her own bias against pre-professionals. Though it's probably another post proclaiming that they'd been accepted under ED1 at Wesleyan.

    Where is it written that pre-professionals aren't intellectually curious? Is it written in the same place that says all 'artsy' types are intellectually motivated? I don't buy it. Having lived around college campuses for more than two decades I've met many "pre-pros" who are fascinating, intellectually avaricious young people. I've also seen my share of liberal arts poseurs, dressed in their blend of goth-hipster, perpetually toting around unread copies of Joyce's Ulysses. If someone has to tell you they're an intellectual it's a good bet that's the last thing they are.

    So ends the rant.
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  • hahmeenhahmeen 4 replies0 threads New Member
    Vince your frustration is understandable because some people do adopt airs that they justify to themselves based upon silly categorizations. But I believe there is a legitimate point to be made concerning usc and its inability to recruit truly intellectually curious people as the rule not the exception. Having been a usc bamd before graduating from Columbia, I can say that Columbia's student body as a whole is incomparable to usc's in terms of intelligence, motivation, and academic seriousness.

    That isn't to say usc isn't good for what it is: a brand with decent professional contacts for a few in southern California.

    But being defensive and having a hard on telling a random high schooler how hard the film school is (I can almost feel your joy envisioning that this individual won't be "good enough") shows your insecurity over usc. Unfortunately your reaction is typical and makes me embarassed to tell ppl I went there.
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  • nauidivernauidiver 56 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited August 2014
    "I can say that Columbia's student body as a whole is incomparable to usc's in terms of intelligence, motivation, and academic seriousness." = If someone has to tell you they're an intellectual it's a good bet that's the last thing they are.

    "That isn't to say usc isn't good for what it is: a brand with decent professional contacts for a few in southern California." = it's his/her willingness to blindly buy into the tired stereotypes about USC


    "Unfortunately your reaction is typical and makes me embarassed to tell ppl I went there." = ridiculous

    edited August 2014
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  • hahmeenhahmeen 4 replies0 threads New Member
    Naui who is guilty of using cliches? I never declared myself an intellectual. I just said USC students from my experience, even ones who were motivated and got good grades, by and large weren't the sort of people I was interested in speaking with. Maybe I should have gone to Uchicago. So you just willfully fit me into a cliche to attack me which is fine. But that makes you exactly the overly defensive USC cliche that I am talking about. Boom goes the dynamite.

    All of your responses are just formulaic and not tailored to things I say. I provided an experiential basis for my opinions and admonished someone for being a dick.

    BTW does it make me a self declared intellectual to tell you that you aren't exactly intellectually creative?
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  • hahmeenhahmeen 4 replies0 threads New Member
    Oh you embarrass me with the lack of it.
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  • hahmeenhahmeen 4 replies0 threads New Member
    edited August 2014
    Finally note I was talking about student bodies and not myself. I still can't see how I am declaring myself an intellectual. What is pathetic about all this is that you go into mindless attack dog mode. Oh they don't like usc. Ergo they are self declared intellectuals, ergo they are dumb.

    What you really mean to say is that many students who adopt pretentious airs don't live up to them. Such illusions are projections of insecurity. Which I noted in my original post. I guess you don't read very "good".

    Well it appears that even some ppl who are not self declared intellectuals (you) appear to be the farthest thing from that. Not sure what an intellectual is nowadays. But we need slightly more complex thinking than that right?
    edited August 2014
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