The land of beautiful people, beautiful weather, and a beautiful fucking campus, the University of Southern California is probs the most collectively beautiful school in the country. And if you don’t believe that sweeping generalization, which you obvi should, trust the movies. USC’s movie-like campus has been featured in The Social Network, Forrest Gump, The Princess Diaries (2, ugh), and was even “Harvard” in Legally Blonde. What, like it’s hard?
In the heart of Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that USC is in a shit ton of movies and TV shows. It’s also no surprise that USC is on the top of thousands of graduating seniors’ wish lists every year. A weirdly perfect mix of academics and partying, USC is the place that all the pretty, popular, and annoyingly smart kids from your high school wanted to go (or actually went if they could afford it).
Greeks: Even though the USC administration has really fucked up with the Greek system in recent years, rushing a fraternity and joining a sorority are def the pinnacle moments of freshman year. And once you go Greek, you never go back (even if your fraternity is kicked off the row, looking at you SAE). After a record number of freshmen hospitalizations due to alcohol poisoning on the row this decade, the administration started freaking the fuck out and made the row “dry.” Right. Well, Los Angeles is in a fucking drought, President Nikias. Banning alcohol is not only inhumane, it’s fucking immoral for the environment.
USC is honestly too big of a school to claim that everyone goes Greek. But everyone you want to know is Greek, and every great party is Greek. So like, you decide.
GDIs: …but don’t even get the God Damn Independents (GDIs) started on the assholes in the Greek system. There’s a super divisive shift between the non-Greeks and the Greeks, especially at the start of freshman year. Super eager freshmen girls obvi need to wear their American Apparel sorority tanks to class every day of syllabus week. Bros make it known that they’re in a fraternity with their hazing rituals—seriously, Sigma Chi? Not letting your pledges talk for the first week of classes? Fucking weird. And the geeds watch this all with amazed, nerdy, and judgmental looks. Which tbh, the judgment kind of makes sense, seeing as one fraternity manages to spend over $50,000 in one night on its Frost party every year. And that budget doesn’t even count the money that its fraternity members spend on snow in the form of nose candy. So to GDIs, fraternity and sorority assholes are the worst. Got it.
Athletes: If you’re an athlete at USC, you’re probably from California, and you’re probably the best of the best. And if you play water polo, volleyball or beach volleyball, you’re probably going to win a national championship. Or maybe you’ll go to the Olympics one year, because USC has had more Olympians than any other school. So casual.
The athletes all hang out in the same area of campus—the John McKay center, a state-of-the-art athletic facility that is literally more like a med spa than a collegiate training facility. With a collective five percent body fat, these athletes all mingle and date and intimidate the rest of the student body.
The super fucking rich kids: Every school has rich kids, obvi. But at USC, you get the rich kids from Hollywood’s elite and Silicon Valley. There is no shortage of Louis Vuitton-carrying, Range Rover-driving betches around campus. And many of these betches have private planes, too, which is like a super casual way to get to Vegas for a weekend. And since it’s only four hours away by car (30 minutes by jet), even the non-elite rich kids love going to Vegas and spending thousands on bottle service at a club watching Calvin Harris fantasize about Taylor Swift onstage.
Everyone else: USC is a super fucking diverse school. For a decade, it had more international students than any other college—recently beat out by NYU—and also boasts a 40 percent out-of-state rate. It’s a private school with a rich alumni base, so scholarships and generous financial aid packages are a regular occurrence. But if you’re paying full tuition, you’re paying a lot of fucking money: roughly $70,000 in cost of attendance per year. So you better be ready to study alongside your partying, or your ass is going back to Santa Monica Community College.
Famous alumni: Even though they don’t actually go to USC currently, they’re notable enough to make this list. Will Ferrell is infamous in USC folklore for flooding the basement of his fraternity at USC and making pledges row him around in a rowboat (and then yelling Mayday as he sent the pledges into the water). Sophia Bush went there. All of the Schwarzenneger kids have graduated from there—at least the legitimate ones. The guy who created the Star Wars saga, George Lucas, went there. So, yeah the alumni are kind of sick.
Where to live
Freshmen: New. North. Though the USC administration is again trying to ruin the lives of all USC students (something about academic integrity and climibing the rankings and other bullshit), the New/North dorms are still the place to be. Two dorms merged together—New and North—it’s basically a year-long party. And it’s completely common to wake up to a very angry email on Monday mornings from the RA’s complaining about couches from the dorms being thrown out the windows, again. Don’t ask. But just be prepared to pay extensive damages as an entire dorm, mostly because drunk frat boys come home and throw shit down the hallways.
Everyone else: Sophomores get merged into the upperclassmen category after freshman year. USC typically only has room for freshmen on campus, so everyone else moves off campus. Those who are Greek will likely move into their sorority and fraternity houses, and all the other fun people will move into the New Mansion, West 27th, or Gateway apartment buildings. Rent is high everywhere because it’s fucking Los Angeles, even if it is in the middle of south central.
What to do
Football gamedays are literally a weekly holiday at USC. Get ready to wake the fuck up to the fight song being blared through your sorority house as betches sneak mimosas into the supposed-to-be-dry house. Then, it’s a day full of beer pong, keg stands, and dancing on tables at frat houses as you prepare to get your heart broken by USC football. You can literally walk down Troustale Parkway (the center street on campus) chugging out of a plastic vodka bottle. No one cares or will give you a ticket.
The football team has a super proud tradition of success and national championships and Heisman winners and all of that fun stuff, but they’ve kind of shit the bed recently after a certain ex-boyfriend of Kim Kardashian—Reggie Bush—got caught illegally taking money. Whatever. It also has a super proud tradition of really fucking hot quarterbacks—Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, just to name a few—so that makes all games worth it.
The other six days of the week, you’ll never be bored at USC. I mean, you’re in fucking Los Angeles. You can literally uber one mile to watch the Lakers play at Staples Center, or ride your bike to campus to watch James Franco get high and teach his class at the cinema school. Between classes, which are actually hard because it’s one of the best academic schools in the country, most students hang out at the campus center and spend $15 for a salad and a pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. Basically all students have bikes or longboards at USC, and most students see these bikes and longboards get stolen fairly regularly. Just a hazard of living in South Central Los Angeles. The campus is fenced in for a reason.
Where to drink
There are two options at USC: the row, and the 9-0. There is literally one bar on USC’s campus, and the 901 Bar and Grill is that bar. It’s a lovable dive. It smells like shit. There’s always a line out the door Thursday-Sunday. All drinks are $11. If you have too many Mind Erasers or AMFs, you will sleep through all of your classes the next day. As a freshman, you sneak in using your big’s ID. As a senior, you use your own ID and wear sweatpants because you’re a #SWUG.
When the administration isn’t ruining your party life on the row, you head to whatever mixer is being held on a Monday night at your favorite fraternity, and go drink on a Monday, because collegiates are functioning alcoholics. Duh.
Where to travel
Los Angeles is an international hub. And with the frequency of private planes around (we’re seriously not joking), you have every opportunity to travel. Lots of Trojans go abroad the second semester of junior year, basically anywhere in Europe.
Otherwise, the biggest travel weekend of the year is The Weekender—when USC football plays Cal-Berkeley or Stanford, and the entire school gets on a plane to go be arrogant and obnoxious football fans up in San Francisco.
In the spring, get your favorite wannabe-hippie outfit prepared months in advance and go to Coachella. Or if you’re a country fan, go and throw on some cowboy boots, make out with a 30-year-old cowboy, and fantasize about Luke Bryan at Stagecoach.
Cabo San fucking Lucas. Try not to lose all of your money at the Mango Deck or El Squid Roe. You’ll spend your days collecting Cabo San Lucas headbands and posing for Instagrams and drinking way too much tequila, so it’s heaven.
People in LA get a reputation for sucking, which is a completely earned reputation. The campus is in a sketchy area. People have gotten murdered and mugged in recent years. Parking sucks. Tuition is expensive.
But other than that, it’s the best fucking school in the world. Fight on, betches.