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The University of Southern California

How this student rated the school
Educational QualityA+ Faculty AccessibilityA-
Useful SchoolworkA- Excess CompetitionA-
Academic SuccessA- Creativity/ InnovationA+
Individual ValueA+ University Resource UseA-
Campus Aesthetics/ BeautyA FriendlinessA-
Campus MaintenanceB+ Social LifeB+
Surrounding CityB- Extra CurricularsA+
SafetyB+
Describes the student body as:
Friendly, Approachable

Describes the faculty as:
Friendly, Helpful

Male
ACT:34
id='quarter' class='snapshot' style='color: #009704; line-height:80px';float:left;
Quite Bright
Lowest Rating
Surrounding City
B-
Highest Rating
Educational Quality
A+
He cares more about Surrounding City than the average student.
Date: Mar 18 2010
Major: Aerospace Engineering (This Major's Salary over time)
I'm just completing my sophomore year at USC and feel like my incredible experience so far could help people decide on USC as their university of choice. I'm in the aerospace engineering program as well as the great Thematic Option honors GE program. TO (as its called) is very, very difficult sometimes I want to destroy our professors for the amount of reading/writing that is given, but I don't regret it in the least due to the fact that the classes are so interesting and taught by the absolute best. It's entirely worth the extra effort, plus normal GE's seem boring/graded harder. In TO you'd have to really blow it to not get a B+ at least. Everyone mostly gets A's, and this is even with not reading many of the texts assigned.

As for engineering, I'm sure there are other schools like MIT, Georgia Tech, CalTech, etc. that are supposedly more academically challenging/higher ranked. This may be true and I'm not disputing that possibility, but the one thing USC absolutely crushes any of those schools in is its attention to individuals and balance. When you go to USC, you feel like a hand-selected student that is not just a number. I went to the Presidential Scholarship (half-tuition) interview session at SC and right when I got there a representative from Texas (where I'm from) came up to me and knew my name as well as remembering what I wrote my application essay on and what answers I put for some "fun" get-to-know-you questions. I had no name tag on. There were also probably 100 or so people at this scholarship interview session. You can't get that level of personal recognition at a state school. I also feel SC is a little less straight up "nerdy" or "geeky"… all of the engineers here could pass for business majors as far as social savvy goes. Everyone for the most part is incredibly intelligent in engineering. I am friends with about 6 other people who scored higher than a 34 on the ACT, and they are very chill and sociable guys. If you are not comfortable being with people and expect college to be all about keeping to yourself and getting perfect grades it'll feel lonely doing that. However, to get above a 3.0 expect to study your ass off. Most homework is done collaboratively in groups and professors support this (as long as you don't just leech and copy).

The school spirit around USC is insane. I went to a massive 5A public high school in North Dallas that bled its school colors and had numerous rivalries. It's an easy transition becoming a die-hard fan of Trojan football. Little things like school spirit may not seem like what you're going to college for, but trust me in engineering at USC you'll really appreciate the pride everyone feels in being a Trojan. Very, very few people are not entirely happy being here.

A huge piece of advice I would give is to ignore what USC says about not bringing a car freshman year. I followed that advice and without a car you will eventually run out of things to do around campus. The new student center is opening in the fall and there are tons of activities on campus, but trust me if you want to see LA and all the great stuff there is in this city make sure to bring a car. It's the only way.

Also, specifically for engineering clubs USC has THE BEST extracurriculars. There's Rocket Lab, AeroDesign, Formula SAE Racing, Robotics, Lunar Lander, MicroSatellite, etc. All of these are extremely hands-on and provide ridiculous exposure to actual engineering challenges. Personally I'm in the Rocket Lab, and we have a large budget that allows us to use carbon fiber to make 18ft tall rockets that we design and build ourselves completely from scratch. There is no professor involvement. You don't get that opportunity at any other university in the country. If you want to have a career in rocketry, USC is the school to go to. We have outstanding alumni connections within the rocket motor industry and routinely go out to Mojave and Black Rock Lake, Nevada to have huge bonfire parties and launch rockets/test giant rocket motors. Our next motor is a 4,500lb thrust motor that will be one of the largest amateur motors ever built. Where else can you do awesome engineering projects while also having fun with people who have such diverse interests and backgrounds?

You are guaranteed to meet people from other countries. I've met people from Singapore, Chile, France, Italy, Japan, China, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, England, etc, etc. There is such massive diversity - USC is certainly a world university.

   
Responses
My son has been accepted to USC and UCLA engineering. He visited USC Viterbi and very much likes it. It was his first choice. Don't know if it still is. He did visit the Rocket Lab and another lab where the students build airplanes and compete. Glad to read someone is enjoying themself at USC. It's going to be a tough decison. Any other suggestions, comments that will help my son make a decision are appreciated. Thanks.
responseIf he did visit one of the labs for Explore SC I may have been in and seen him, I know we had many students coming through labs recently.

Both USC and UCLA are highly regarded. What particular field of engineering is your son looking at? I don't have exact information on what programs are better/worse at USC or UCLA in comparison, but I do know USC was ranked 7th overall in the nation for engineering. This ranking does change when you look at each individual program (some are higher or lower), but there are also many non-quantitative variables such as the extracurricular clubs that do not factor into rankings as far as I understand them to work. All I can personally vouch for is that everyone at USC is very satisfied with the quality of students surrounding them as well as the personal attention each student is given. Without a scholarship, however, it is more expensive than UCLA if you are on in-state tuition (Out-of-state isn't too much more expensive). Hope this helps!

questionHow does the Electrical Engineering Program rank at USC? I've just been accepted and this is my first choice.
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