No two colleges are alike

On paper, New York University and the University of Southern California seem like two very similar schools.

But after spending my first two years as an undergraduate at NYU and then transferring to USC this semester, I have noticed significant differences that stem straight from the heart of these similarities.

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Both New York City and Los Angeles teem with millions of intersecting stories, lives and communities. Both  are simultaneously exciting and challenging places to be a student.

Both universities boast a wealth of resources, renowned schools and programs, great faculty and an engaged, diverse student body.

They share a lot of unusual academic characteristics — strong and in-demand undergraduate majors in communication and journalism, extensive internship opportunities that capitalize on their urban settings, and a strong undergraduate reputation within a large private university setting with graduate and professional programs.

Having lived both the NYU and USC experiences, I know first-hand the similarities and differences between the two universities.

It’s understandable why some students end up deciding between the two.

As a campus-less school smack in the middle of downtown Manhattan, to choose NYU is to choose the fast-paced thrill of New York City.

The ways in which NYU overlaps with the city are undeniably exciting, but can be overwhelmingly alienating.

The lack of physical connection leads to a strong sense of emotional disconnection. It also magnifies the sense of being one out of a million. NYU is about being independent personally, academically and socially.

At USC, the athletics, strong Greek-life presence and Trojan pride prove not only an academic connection, but a social connection.

To choose USC is to also choose Los Angeles. Being a part of the university ties students to more than just the campus.

The connections are rooted in, and extend beyond, the physical. USC offers an incomparably strong, long-lasting network of students and faculty.

I laughed the first couple of times I heard the phrase “Trojan family,” but I now feel that it is one of USC’s greatest strengths.

In my choice between the two schools, I was hesitant about choosing USC over NYU, perhaps because aside from their bi-coastal locations, the campuses are so alike.

Prospective students who are deciding between  schools like NYU and USC should be aware that the two schools are similar, but diverge critically in their overall educational and social experience.

Though both campuses are conveniently located in urban cities, USC and the Los Angeles area have a history of being interdependent on one another.

Historically, the university’s growth into a highly selective institution has naturally coincided with the city’s growth as one of the major economic, entertainment, and media markets on the globe.

It’s not that either experience is better; they’re simply different cultures.

USC should play to not only the many strengths that it shares with NYU, but also to those that separate it as a university that is truly one with the surrounding community.

Elena Kadvany is a junior majoring in journalism and Spanish.

11 replies
  1. Ha
    Ha says:

    What is with these delusional Trojans? SC is a fine school, but comparing yourself to Penn is just silly. I realize that the university has gamed the US News ranking system and rocketed up in the past decade or two, but surpassing UCLA in the rankings is only believed in the eyes of USC apologists. Anyone, honest with themselves, realizes that when only considering the state of California, USC still falls behind Stanford, Cal, Cal Tech, and yes, even UCLA in the eyes of EVERYONE in academia. This doesn’t even consider some of the smaller colleges in California that have stronger academic reputations. And on the national stage, the claim of USC being “elite” becomes even more laughable.

    USC has vastly improved through the years, and is no longer simply the place for the rich to send their underachieving kids. I truly hope this trend continues. But, can we stop with the delusions and self-congratulatory pats on the back?

  2. Donna
    Donna says:

    Let’s not forget, also, that most of NYU’s undergraduate academics suck balls.

    I went to high school in NYC and the kids who went to NYU for anything but Tisch were laughed at.

  3. M.
    M. says:

    I, like the author, transferred from NYU to USC during my undergraduate career. I loved NYU. I truly enjoyed my experiences and will cherish my time spent in New York. I will never regret attending both. The academic curriculum and students at both Universities are world-class.

    The author is correct when bringing up the Trojan Family. USC network is like no other. You cannot compare the two schools when it comes to alumni, student, and faculty relationships nourished on and off campus.

    To be a student at NYU is to be a student of New York City. Nearly anything a young mind could want is within reach. You grow up very quickly in that vibrant and expansive culture. I felt more deeply connected to the city than I did the school. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
    To be a student at USC is to be a student in balance. While you have the benefits of living in the city of Los Angeles, you have opportunity to be a member of a worldwide community that is not only tight knit, but welcoming. Our football team is a nice touch, too.

    While I started as a Violet, I am going to die a Trojan. Fight On!

  4. NYC Bred Trojan
    NYC Bred Trojan says:

    This article was a complete snooze fest. The costs financing a USC vs. NYU education weren’t even addressed. As a financial aid awardee, USC’s generous aid was a huge lure away from NYC to LA.

  5. USC Dad
    USC Dad says:

    As a Native NYC’er and a USC Dad, I say “Go Trojans”. 2010 Parent’s Weekend was awesome. And I agree w/ TT and Alumni that UPenn is more Comparable. Both USC and UPenn have some green stuff that NYU lacks. GRASS.

  6. E
    E says:

    I am an NYU graduate. I agree with the stated obvious in that the two Universities are largely influenced by its membership to a major U.S. city.

    However, I believe the writer’s article lacks offering HOW the Universities are both similar AND different. Despite the express title,” No Two Colleges are Alike”, the author inexplicably focuses on the various similarities between USC and NYU, and merely opines that USC has a stronger social connection compared to NYU. Is that it?

    The author boasts firsthand experience at both Universities. I agree with “Alumni” in that the author should have provided some of her own personal experiences and/or concrete examples evidencing her point. Interestingly, this article greatly lacks the point suggested by its presumptive title. In my opinion, the author simply fails to make a singular point and adequately support it! I expect more from a Junior-level journalism student.

    NYU SCPS, 2006

  7. alumni
    alumni says:

    the writer is simply stating the obvious. tell me something i don’t know. it would have been more helpful if some personal experiences and examples were included.
    and to tommy trojan. i wish that were true, but usc definitely does not compare to upenn. i wish it does though. one day it may.

  8. Tommy Trojan
    Tommy Trojan says:

    I believe that we were comparable to NYU 20 years ago. Now, I believe that UPenn is the more comparable east coast university.

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