First Impressions: University of Southern California (USC)

Being a long time college football fan, the University of Southern California (USC) was one school that I had always wanted to visit since my junior year in high school. I crossed the visit off my bucket list in June. There are many photos of the USC campus on Pinterest, collected for you, and I had the opportunity to do a write-up on the university. 

USC is a very large (18,000 full-time undergraduates) private urban university much like Boston University or NYU, except that it has a “spirit and sports” culture that is more like a larger Big Ten or Southeastern Conference football school. But if  spirit and sports are not for you, there is plenty to do in Los Angeles as well as on campus. However, while the campus is served by light rail, Los Angeles is not as mobile a city as Boston or New York.The USC campus itself is quite attractive for a city setting. It has also been a venue for movies and television since 1930. However, I would advise students not to walk too far away from campus in any direction, as they might at crosstown neighbor UCLA.

Academics at USC are much like those are Boston University, NYU or UCLA, except that virtually any major offered by the university can also be a minor. There are also “mini-majors” and other academic options. USC students do not worry about being “capped out” of any major as they could be at a University of California system campus. They only need to make good academic progress.

USC alumni are very loyal, more loyal, in fact, than alumni of Boston University, NYU or UCLA, among many other city-based schools. According to US News, USC has the fifth-highest alumni giving rate (39 percent) in the country among large and mid-sized research universities.  Only Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Notre Dame alumni are more loyal to their alma mater.

USC is one of the leading research universities in the country and it has one of the best connected alumni bases in the world. But the spirit and sports culture on campus is not for everyone. A Californian who can get into UCLA or Berkeley will pay a lot less money to go to college in a nicer neighborhood. If you do not come from California, but want to enjoy perfect days in LA, USC is the better value over UCLA, Pepperdine or Loyola Marymount, provided that you can get in. If you’re a Californian who has the means or opportunity to come to USC, the resources are there to create an academic, career and social experience that you could possibly want.

Report Card: University of Southern California

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: A
  • Freshman Retention: A
  • Costs: B+
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B+
  • Comforts: B+
  • Connections: A

Check out my First Impressions of USC!

Check out my USC Pinterest page!

Visiting colleges? Daytripper University’s travel guides highlight the best restaurants and hotels as well as the most interesting attractions near the University of Southern California. Founded by Liora Yalof and Bonnie Klein and relying on a network of parents, locals and current students, this comprehensive website features guides to over 100 campuses and resources to help you navigate the college process.

Need help in building your college list and comparing schools? Contact me at or call me at 609-406-0062.