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.
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.