What is USC Known For?

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Famed for its prestigious creative programs, particularly film, the University of Southern California (USC) is the oldest private research university in California. USC is highly selective and offers a wide range of top-ranked academic programs.

 

What is USC most known for? Keep reading for an in-depth rundown of its programs, extracurricular activities, traditions, and more.

 

Overview of USC Admissions

 

Location: Los Angeles

Undergrad Enrollment: 19,900

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Middle 50% SAT: 1360-1510

Middle 50% ACT: 30-34

 

USC is consistently ranked in the top 30 national universities, and its admissions reflects that. Admissions is so coveted that some high-profile families were discovered to have falsified athletic recruitments in the “Operation Varsity Blues” scandal. 

 

There are some ways to boost your chances ethically, however. Even if you don’t intend to apply for scholarships, it’s still a good idea to submit your application by the scholarship deadline of December 1. This can give you a 6-8% admissions boost.

 

Bear in mind that while creative programs don’t have higher academic requirements, the admissions committee does emphasize extracurricular experiences and portfolio strength when evaluating applications for these programs. If you’re planning on applying to a film program at USC, you’ll need to start your application early because it requires a number of supplemental essays and portfolio components.

 

See our guide for how to write USC’s supplemental essays.

Unique Aspects of USC

 

Academics

 

Boasting alumni like Judd Apatow and Macy Gray, USC’s School of Cinematic Arts is the oldest (and arguably most prestigious) film school in the U.S. It’s consistently ranked as one of the top film schools in the country, with numerous Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning students and faculty to its name. 

 

USC has several additional creative and performing arts schools, including the Thornton School of Music, School of Dramatic Arts, and Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, some of the most notable performing arts schools in the nation.

 

But USC is not only known for its creative and performing arts programs. The Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, for example, offers a wide variety of traditional and niche programs — 140 degree options for undergraduates, from creative writing to physics to archaeology.

 

Other undergraduate schools include:

 

  • Sol Price School of Public Policy, which offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy, Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Development, and Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies and Planning
  • Viterbi School of Engineering, a top-ranking engineering school in the nation
  • Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where students hone their skills communication, journalism, public relations, and public diplomacy
  • Marshall School of Business, which prepares business leaders and entrepreneurs for thriving careers at a premier business school

 

Faculty are noted experts in their fields: Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, Rhodes Scholars, Academy Award-winners, and other distinctions. Alumni, too, are leaders, holding the same or equally prestigious honors.

 

Many USC students choose to study abroad, through programs like Global Scholars, the USC Africa Fund, the Queens College Cambridge-USC Exchange Program, Schaeffer Government Service Fellows Program, and the Global Fellows Internship Program.

 

Extracurriculars

 

USC is a member of many athletic conferences. Its football team is particularly revered, but the university excels in a number of sports. The Trojans have won a total of 107 team and 412 individual NCAA team championships, placing them third in the country. Students and alumni have won over 300 Olympic medals, and more than 525 football players have been drafted into the NFL. 

 

USC offers plenty of other extracurricular opportunities aside from the sports arena. The Trojan Marching Band, known as the Spirit of Troy, has many claims to fame. It has performed in and at many prestigious venues and events, including the Academy Awards, the Rose Parade, and more.

 

Greek life has a high participation rate at USC, with more than a quarter of students joining fraternities and sororities. But students have many additional options, such as Active Minds, Best Buddies, Dragon Boat, Eco-op, and many others.

 

Financial Aid

 

USC’s admissions is need-blind, so your ability to pay won’t impact your admissions decision. The school also meets 100% demonstrated need, and around two-thirds of Fall 2020 first-years received some financial assistance, with 21% receiving merit scholarships.

 

Traditions

 

USC has plenty of traditions, many of which revolve around football. For example, when the Trojans score, the Spirit of Troy plays “Conquest.” Traveler, the school’s white horse, makes an appearance at games, too. And because football is such an important part of student life, people wake up early on game days in order to take advantage of tailgates and other events. En route to the LA Memorial Coliseum, students kick one of the flag poles for good luck.

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Dorms

 

Residential life at USC is built on community. First-year students live in residential colleges, where they enjoy activities, such as dinners, volunteering events, and guest speakers, alongside faculty in residence and staff. 

 

Then, students have their choice of residential options, including residence halls, suites, apartments, and special-interest communities, which cater to specific niches.

 

Location

 

LA is the second-largest city in the U.S. and offers so much to USC students, from arts to culture to food and more. This provides students with many resources and tools to succeed in their careers and lives.

 

USC is LA’s largest private employer, further solidifying the relationship between the university and its renowned city.

 

Resources

 

USC houses a number of museums and libraries, such as the Fisher Museum of Art, which has a collection of around 1,800 items, and the Special Collections, which oversee archives, manuscripts, historic photographs, and rare books.

 

Students can also access discounts at some of the most famous attractions in LA and nearby cities, including Knott’s Berry Farm and the San Diego Zoo, as well as the school’s gas station and other amenities.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance to USC?

 

Will you be admitted to USC? While the university is highly selective, your personal chances of admission depend on numerous factors, including your extracurricular activities, GPA, and test scores. The specific program and school that interests within USC also impacts your admissions decision, since USC is a leader in fields such as film and performing arts.

 

To estimate your real odds of acceptance, check out our free chancing engine. This tool estimates your true odds of acceptance based on your personal data and information. It’s free to use — create a profile to get started!

 

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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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